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Food sampling

Why sample food?

Our enforcement of food hygiene legislation includes an element of food sampling to assist in the protection of public health and the food law enforcement functions of the authority.

Food sampling allows us to gather information about the quality and safety of food produced, handled and sold in the district.

We participate in the following food sampling activities with an emphasis on the sampling of locally produced high risk products.

  • Investigation of food contamination and food poisoning incidents.

  • Complaints (where sampling is considered necessary).

  • Participation in the Public Health England (PHE) coordinated national sampling programmes.

  • Participation in North West Regional food sampling initiatives.

  • Co-ordinated programmed surveillance in conjunction with the Cumbrian Food Liaison Group.

  • Participation in EU co-ordinated control programmes.

  • Special investigations for example as directed by the Food Standards Agency.

  • Sampling related to local events/initiatives.

  • Environmental sampling (swabbing) in connection with poor hygiene/sample results.

  • Sampling related to concerns identified during inspections.

  • Imported food sampling - approximately 50% of food offered for sale in the UK is imported. The Food Standards Agency requires all local authorities to take steps to ensure imported food has been legally introduced and that it is safe for the consumer. Where appropriate, imported food will be included in the sampling programme.

What food is sampled?

Any food, including drink products, that is produced, handled or sold within the Eden district can be sampled.

In addition environmental samples such as environmental swabs of a areas used for food preparation can be taken.

How are food samples taken?

Samples can be obtained in two ways. The first way is for an officer from environmental health to purchase the samples as a regular customer, unannounced to the premises.

Alternatively, the officer would identify themselves to the premises before taking the samples. This way allows the officer to obtain further details about the sample and its storage conditions, or collect samples that otherwise would be difficult to collect such as an environmental swab from a food preparation area.

The samples are then submitted to a Public Health England laboratory, for microbiological examination.

What happens to the food samples next?

In the event of any sample results being returned which do not comply with statutory requirements or HPA guidance, we will consider whether informal or formal action is necessary and submit further laboratory samples as appropriate to help identify where a problem may have occurred.

Food sampling history

A table showing the number of food samples taken between 2009 and 2016:

Food Samples 2009 / 2010 2010 / 2011 2011 / 2012 2012 / 2013 2013 / 2014 2015 / 2016
Cooked meats and meat products (red meat) 33 26 21 29 38 66
Poultry meat products (white meat) 11 5 2 0 0 19
Pate 3 18 14 20 4 38
Ice cream 18 10 8 17 11 21
Nuts 0 0 0 5 0 0
Milk 44 35 29 13 55 15
Cream 11 11 8 8 9 9
Salad 16 14 0 0 0 5
Fish and Fish products (ready to eat) 17 10 1 0 0 18
Liver (raw) 0 14 0 0 0 0
Cakes and dessert 0 1 0 1 9 0
Sandwiches 22 3 4 6 18 3
Raw eggs 0 0 4 0 0 0
Ready meals 26 34 11 1 0 3
Cheese 0 21 0 10 14 18
Sauces 0 13 9 1 0 0
Herbs and spices 2 10 8 0 3 1
Environmental samples 68 27 8 28 68 220
Pies 0 4 14 20 5 16
Miscellaneous ingredients 0 0 4 0 0 0
Fruit and vegetable 0 0 22 17 0 4
Raw meat 0 0 3 0 0 4
Soda water 0 0 0 0 11 0
Total 271 256 170 176 245 460