What to expect from a food safety inspection

Possible outcomes of a food inspection

Food safety inspectors can take enforcement action against your business in order to protect the public. The inspector should confirm any action you need to take in a written letter. They must give you enough time to put actions into effect, unless there is an immediate risk to public health.

During an inspection of your business an inspector can also serve a legal notice. The three main types of notice are:

  • Hygiene improvement notice - sets out certain things you must do to comply with food hygiene law. You will recieve this if your business is breaking the law.
  • Food labelling improvement notice - sets out what you need to do to comply with food labelling law. You will receive this if your business is breaking the law.
  • Hygiene emergency prohibition notice - forbids you to use certain processes, premises or equipment and must be confirmed by a court.
  • Remedial action notice - forbids the use of certain processes, premises or equipment. It can also impose conditions on how you carry out a process. It’s similar to a hygiene emergency prohibition notice, but it does not need to be confirmed by a court. 

It is a criminal offence not to comply with a notice once served.

Inspectors can also recommend a prosecution, in serious cases. If a prosecution is successful, the court may forbid you from using certain processes, premises or equipment. It could ban you from managing a food business. It could also lead to a fine or imprisonment.