Food hygiene inspections

Page updated on: 30/01/2024

Our environmental health officers have a right to enter and inspect food premises without having to make an appointment or giving advanced notice. It is common practice for inspectors to visit without notice.

Our inspectors will check if your business produces food that is safe to eat. We will look at the premises as a whole - the food prepared; working methods and also the food safety management system and its application.

The frequency of our visits depends on:

  • What type of food is handled
  • People at risk
  • How the business is managed
  • The condition of the premises
  • Any complaints that we have received

What happens during a visit?

The purpose of a visit is to determine regulatory compliance. We will show you identification on arrival. We will provide constructive feedback on an inspection and will readily discuss any problems identified or any concerns that you may have in relation to food hygiene issues.

Should we require you to do something, you will be advised whether action is needed to comply with the law or whether it is good practice. Any action required will be confirmed in writing. Where we make recommendations for improvement, we will also discuss timescales within which you must complete the work. We will give details of any follow up visits to check on your progress, except where there is an immediate risk to health.

In certain instances, we will take samples; photographs; inspect records and take food we suspect is unsafe. As a result, we may write to you informally, asking you to rectify issues; serve hygiene improvement notices; or serve remedial action notices imposing prohibitions on the business i.e. a certain process, premises or equipment.

If the public are deemed at risk however, we will serve a hygiene emergency prohibition notice, which effectively closes your establishment down. We may also recommend prosecution in serious cases which could lead to a fine, imprisonment, or even prohibit an individual from managing a food business.


We operate a formal complaints procedure should you wish to complain about the level of service you receive. In the event of you wishing to appeal against the decision to issue a hygiene improvement notice, you have a right of appeal to a magistrate’s court.

Where we have deemed it necessary to impose a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on a premises, process or equipment, or seize a particular consignment of food, such action must be taken before a Magistrate within a specified time period. A magistrate must confirm an emergency closure of a business or seizure of food. If it is decided that a premise has been shut without proper reason, or food has been wrongly taken away, you have a right to compensation.