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When producing food there needs to be a reliable way of ensuring that food quality standards are met and monitored. This is where food inspectors are needed. The inspectors will check a business that produces food and ensures that is safe to eat.

When they visit they will look at: 

  • The food premises
  • The kinds of food that are made or prepared
  • How work is carried out
  • The food safety management system and that staff training, supervision and management is carried out correctly

On the visit, they can also serve improvement notices, close down the food premises, seize items and they also have the right to take photos, video and see the whole business.

You can find information about the legal requirements on food safety and hygiene on the food safety agency website a link is in the download area of this site. You can also contact the environmental health service at your local authority for advice.

They will also make sure descriptions of the food you sell or produce are not misleading, for example, labelling or menus. There are legal requirements on food labelling and you can find more information on the FSA website.

The frequency of inspections will vary. 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. If the premises are domestic premises they must give 24 hours notice of a visit.

If you serve or supply food directly to the public, you may be covered by the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. This means that when your business is inspected, you will be given a hygiene rating from '0' at the bottom to '5' at the top, based on the hygiene standards found at the time. In Scotland, you will be given a ‘Pass’ or ‘Improvement Required’ result as part of a similar scheme called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme. We will cover this in more detail in another video.

You will be given a sticker/certificate with your rating or result. You can put these on display to show your customers how good your hygiene standards are. They will also be able to look these up on the Food Standards Agency’s website at food.gov.uk/ratings

Finally one other purpose of their visit to offer guidance, advice and training to help businesses comply.