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How to prepare for food hygiene inspections

How frequently are food hygiene inspections carried out?

Food safety inspections are carried out by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO). As a responsible food business owner, you should be aware of exactly what an EHO will look for when carrying out a hygiene inspection. 

The visit can take place at any time without warning, so it’s important that your business maintains high food hygiene standards and cleanliness at all times. It may sound a little unsettling, but there are lots of things you can act upon to ensure your inspection goes smoothly without issue. 

Our experts have come together to provide some handy tips that all food business owners should make to stay compliant and boost your hygiene rating!

When might a food hygiene inspection occur?

The food hygiene inspector will normally turn up due to a routine inspection. However, they might visit because of a hygiene complaint. How often the inspectors routinely inspect your business depends on the type of business that you run and its previous record. Some premises may be inspected at least every six months, but normally it would be much less frequent.

Inspectors do have the right to enter your premises to carry out a hygiene inspection, providing the hours are reasonable. The inspector does not have to make an appointment and will usually come without notice.

How often are food hygiene inspections?

The frequency of a food hygiene inspection can vary, depending on the performance of your business. You’ll receive a hygiene rating for your business based on numerous factors that will give you an overall aggregated score. But, the scoring system works in reverse, the lower your score, the higher your rating and vice versa. 

You’ll be rated between 0 to 5 - with 0 being the worst, and a score of 5 means you’ve nailed the assignment by displaying your commitment to good food hygiene practices. 

Other factors that determine how often a food hygiene inspection takes place include: 

  • The length of time your food business has been open 
  • If you change your product offering and start trading different food products
  • If you have previously received a low rating 
  • If a complaint is received by the local authorities about a breach of food hygiene

What areas do inspectors look at during an inspection?

Knowing exactly what inspectors are going to be looking for during the inspection is an obvious help. So, we’ll share some of that information to help you address any areas you may feel you need to improve upon.

A food hygiene inspector will inspect the following areas during the inspection:

  • Your working premises
  • The kinds of food that you produce or prepare
  • How you work with and handle food
  • Your food safety management system

As the inspection proceeds, officers will cross-check that your business operates a range of food safety procedures based on the HACCP principles. They’ll analyse how you handle raw and ready-to-eat food, how your food is stored and where, and the precautions your business deploys to ensure food is served or sold in a safe manner.

Can inspectors take enforcement action against my business?

It goes without saying that enforcement action is a possibility. If your business shows a lack of competence and poses a public health risk, then immediate action will be taken. 

The hygiene inspector may carry out some or all of the following measures: 

  • Take photographs of food preparation or storage areas that are unclean 
  • Analyse all recorded documentation and records
  • Take away samples of food to test for any bacterial viruses
  • Contact you via letter following an inspection to explain areas of concern around compliance 
  • Seize foods assessed as being unfit for human consumption
  • Serve an emergency notice that prohibits certain parts of your business 
  • Advise of a formal caution or prosecution

It’s important to note that the severe measures contained within this list won’t be taken without a serious public health risk being apparent during an inspection.

Prepare for food hygiene inspections with our dedicated courses

So, we hope that we’ve covered all bases in our blog, but we can provide lots more insight on food hygiene for your business, thanks to our range of online, interactive courses. 

iHasco has years of experience in delivering interactive training courses that both excite and educate. We’ve provided thousands of businesses with the skills and knowledge to stay compliant, helping to grow businesses to align their workforce and grow together. 

Check out our range of dedicated food training courses below.

We’ve also combined all three courses into a food hygiene training bundle to offer a complete package of food hygiene knowledge for you and your staff. 

So, if this sounds like it can be of benefit to your business, then send an enquiry to us today and one of our experts will get back to you within 24 hours.

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