Facts about food inspections

How often are inspections carried out?

Most catering premises that are fully compliant with relevant legislation will be inspected every two years. Those dealing with vulnerable groups will be inspected more frequently.

Who inspects food businesses?

Either an environmental health officer or an authorised food and safety officer employed by the council will inspect food businesses in the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council area. Always ask to see some form of official identification.

What happens during an inspection?

The officer will:

  • talk to staff to establish the size and scope of the business
  • gather information and observe food handling and preparation practices
  • check the training of food handlers
  • look at the food safety management system and see how well it is being implemented
  • see if there have been any breaches of food law and explain what needs to be done to improve this
  • decide if any enforcement action is needed

What else can enforcement officers do?

  • take samples, take photographs and inspect records
  • write informally asking the food business operator to put right any problems. Where breaches of the law are identified, which must be put right, they may serve a hygiene improvement notice
  • detain or seize foods
  • in serious cases they may decide to recommend a prosecution. If the prosecution is successful, the court may impose prohibitions on processes and the use of premises or equipment, fines and possibly imprisonment.
  • if there is an imminent health risk to consumers, inspectors can serve an hygiene emergency prohibition notice that forbids the use of the premises or equipment. The courts must confirm such a notice.

May a business refuse entry?

No, it is a criminal offence to obstruct an authorised officer in the course of their duty.

I have received a hygiene improvement notice. What should I do?

  • take immediate steps to ensure compliance within the specified time period
  • if you cannot comply within the time period, you must contact the food and safety team
  • let the enforcement officer know of progress made to comply with the notice

Who governs what the officers do?

The officers must comply with and/or adhere to:

Contact the food and safety team

Telephone: 01732 876191