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Food hygiene inspections

Inspections

We carry out regular checks on all food premises to ensure the public is protected and that standards are maintained.

Inspectors have a right to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours. Routine inspections of premises are generally carried out without prior notification, usually when the business is trading. Inspections are prioritised according to the degree of risk posed by the food business using a national scoring scheme. This ensures that higher risk premises are visited 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 premises that serve or supply food direct to the public may be covered by the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.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 legal notice, prosecution, or in extreme cases closure of the business.

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

Guidance

We have produced lots of guidance for different types of businesses. There is also guidance on producing HACCP systems. See Food Hygiene and Safety Guidance.

The Food Standards Agency 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 caterers 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 Web site below.

  • Safer food, better business for caterers
    This food safety management pack has been developed to help small catering businesses such as restaurants, cafes and takeaways comply with food hygiene regulations.
  • Safer food, better business for retailers
    This food safety management pack has been developed to help retail businesses across the UK comply with food hygiene regulations.
  • Safer food, better business for different cuisines
    Safer food, better business has been adapted for small catering businesses such as restaurants and takeaways that serve either Chinese cuisine or Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cuisines.
  • Safer food, better business in other languages
    Safer food, better business for Chinese cuisine is available in Traditional Chinese.
  • Safer food, better business for childminders
    The Food Standards Agency has produced a Safer food, better business (SFBB) pack especially for childminders. The pack gives simple, straightforward advice on food safety, including information on feeding babies and children, cooking, cleaning, chilling and looking after a child with a food allergy.
  • Safer food, better business for residential care homes
    A Safer food, better business (SFBB) supplement has been produced to help caterers and staff working in small residential care homes prepare and cook safer food for their residents. The supplement is not intended for use in nursing homes, because there may be other food safety procedures that need to be applied, which are not covered by SFBB, for example full infection control policy.

An online guide to SFBB is available in 16 different languages, which will assist food businesses in training staff in SFBB and how to implement it. The guide can be viewed on line at food.gov.uk/sfbbtraining

You can print out the new print friendly version of the diary refill separately if you only need that part of the pack. This new version can be filled electronically and allows you to download the diary pages onto your computer desktop, fill them in, name them for the appropriate month and year and store them electronically.

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, so you may wish to print off copies of the pack and print or photocopy blank diary pages and complete them by hand.

You may also find the following guidance useful: Working with food? What you need to know before you start.