Food Law Inspections
If you run a business that makes or prepares food, it will be inspected to make sure you are following food law. The inspectors will be enforcement officers from your local authority. This brief guide explains what inspections might involve and the action that inspectors can take.
Safe to Eat
The inspectors will check if your business produces food that is safe to eat. To do this, they will look at your premises, the kinds of food you make or prepare, how you work and your food safety management system. For information about the legal requirements on food safety and hygiene, see the Food Standards Agency website. The inspectors will also look at how you describe food, for example on a menu or label, to make sure the description is not misleading for customers.
Frequency of Inspections
The inspectors might come on a routine inspection, or they might visit because of a complaint. How often the inspectors routinely inspect your business depends on the type of business and its previous record. Some premises might be inspected at least every six months, others much less often. Inspectors have the right to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and will usually come without notice.
When inspectors visit, they must follow the Food Standards Agency’s Framework Agreement on local authority food law enforcement, and the Food Law Code of Practice. You can expect the inspectors to show you identification when they arrive and be polite throughout the visit. They should always give you feedback on an inspection. This means they will tell you about any problems they have identified and advise you about how they can be avoided. If inspectors advise you to do something, they must tell you whether you need to do it to comply with the law, or whether it is good practice.
If you are asked to take any action as a result of the inspection, you must be given the reasons in writing. If the inspectors decide that you are breaking a law, they must tell you what that law is. The inspectors should give you a reasonable amount of time to make changes, except where there is an immediate risk to public health. They must also tell you how you can appeal against their actions.
Inspectors can also recommend a prosecution, in serious cases. If a prosecution is successful, the court may forbid you from using certain processes, premises or equipment, or you could be banned from managing a food business. It could also lead to a fine or imprisonment.
KnowHow Training specialises in providing food safety training in compliance with a businesses obligations under food safety law. Our food safety courses give a firm grasp of the importance of food safety and knowledge of systems, techniques and procedures. For more information please see our food safety courses section or contact us.