What to expect from a food safety inspection

Food inspector's rights and powers

Authorised officers from your local council will visit your premises to check of your business is complying with food law. they will ensure you are producing food that is safe to eat. Frequency of inspection will depend on the type of business and its previous record. Some premises might be inspected at least every six months, others much less often. Authorised officers usually do not make an appointment. They have the right to:

  • enter and inspect premises
  • take food samples
  • examine working methods and management procedures
  • look at records 

When might a food inspection take place?

The inspection may take place in the following circumstances:

  • when a new food business opens
  • routine programmed inspections
  • inspections following a complaint or new information about the business

Authorised food safety inspectors must show identification when they arrive. They should always give you feedback on an inspection. The inspection must follow the framework agreement on local council food law enforcement as set out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). It must also follow the Food Law Code of Practice, which states that inspectors should:

  • offer advice if appropriate or requested
  • encourage food business operators to adopt good practice
  • discuss any corrective action that may be necessary, and the timescale for corrective action to take place
  • inform you of any further action the inspector plans to take

Food inspectors should also distinguish between:

  • actions recommended for the sake of good practice
  • actions required to comply with legal requirements

During the visit, the food inspector might take samples and photographs of food. They may inspect your records or remove suspect foods. Following their visit, they might write to you informally asking you to put right any problems they found.