Food hygiene inspections

Food premises inspections

To protect the public and to maintain standards we carry out regular checks to on all food premises.

Inspectors have a right to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours. They carry out routine inspections of food premises, generally without prior notification, usually when the business is trading. We prioritise inspections according to the degree of risk posed by the food business, using a national scoring scheme. This ensures that we visit higher risk premises more frequently than those in lower risk categories.

During an inspection, officers will want to check that food businesses operate effective food safety management procedures based on HACCP principles (hazard analysis critical control point). They will check how hygienically the food is handled and what measures are taken to ensure the food served or sold is safe. They review the training of staff to ensure that it is suitable, and they will check that the condition of the premises and equipment is satisfactory, for example, that they are clean and in good repair.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme may cover food premises that serve or supply food direct to the public. This means that the business will be given a hygiene rating from '0' to '5', where 5 represents the highest hygiene standard.

Where practices or conditions are not satisfactory, every attempt will be made to resolve the situation by informal means, but where poor conditions persist, or where there is a risk to public health, it may be necessary to resort to formal action. This could involve either the service of a legal notice, prosecution, or in extreme cases, closure of the business.

All actions taken by officers will be in accordance with the Food Safety Enforcement Policy (PDF: 132Kb / 16 pages).

Food hygiene guidance

See Food Hygiene and Safety Guidance we produce, there is lots of guidance for different types of businesses and also guidance on producing HACCP systems.

See the Food Standards Agency website, which also provides a wide range of advice for food businesses, including the Safer Food, Better Business (SFBB) packs.

There are a number of SFBB packs available that are designed to meet the specific needs of different food businesses:

  • small catering businesses
  • small retail businesses
  • restaurants and takeaways serving Chinese or Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cuisines
  • childminders
  • care homes' supplement, designed for use with the caterer's pack

The Food Standards Agency is no longer supplying businesses or Councils with hard copy SFBB packs, with the sole exception that packs can be provided to new food businesses. To obtain a pack, please download and print it from the links to the Food Standards Agency website below.

Download a diary week view refill (PDF: 194Kb/ 5 pages) from the Food Standards Agency website, which you can fill in electronically, entering the name for the appropriate month and year and store them electronically or you can print the PDF to be filled in by hand.

However, please remember that the completed SFBB pack and diary must be readily available for officers from the Food, Health and Safety team to inspect during your routine food inspection or other visits to your business. You may wish to print off copies of the pack and print or photocopy blank diary pages and complete them by hand.

Download 'Working with food? What you need to know before you start' (PDF) from the Food Standards Agency website, which you may find is useful guidance.

Last updated: Wednesday, 24 April, 2024.