Food Safety Inspections FAQs

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The following is a list of the most common questions and answers about our food and safety inspections.

How often are inspections carried out?

Food safety inspections are carried out routinely dependent on the type of business and recent history. For example 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 Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council. Always ask to see some form of official identification. If in doubt contact us. The time taken to carry out an inspection varies considerably depending on the size, nature and extent of the operation.

What happens during an inspection?

The officer(s) 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 your food safety management system e.g. Safer Food Better Business and see how well it is being implemented;
  • identify whether there have been any breaches of food law and tell you what needs to be done to improve;
  • determine if any enforcement action is needed

What else can enforcement officers do?

  • Take samples (according to our sampling policy) and photographs, and inspect records
  • Write informally asking the food business operator to put right any problems they find. 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 his/her duty

What can a business do if they receive a Hygiene Improvement Notice?

  • Take immediate steps to ensure that they comply with it within the specified time period.
  • If they do not comply then they may be prosecuted.
  • If they cannot comply within the time period they must contact the Food and Safety Team immediately.
  • Let the enforcement officer know of the progress made to comply with the notice.

Who governs what the officers do?

The officers must comply with and/or adhere to:

  • European Union Food Safety Directives and Regulations (where appropriate)
  • The Food Safety Act 1990.
  • Code of Practice issued by the Food Standards Agency (
  • Advice in relevant approved industry guides for food businesses.

Officers cannot make up the rules and regulations as they go along.

Collection of credible evidence is pivotal in any case that may lead to prosecution.

Further Information

The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Food & Safety Enforcement and Service Plan

Contact us