The Environmental Health food and safety team carries out regular checks on all food premises to ensure that the public is protected and that high standards of food safety are maintained.
The purpose of food premises inspections
- To identify and prevent risks to public health
- To investigate possible breaches of food hygiene legislation and to take action where necessary to ensure the business is legally compliant
- To offer advice about good food hygiene practices
During an inspection officers will want to reassure themselves that potential food safety risks have been identified by the business and that there are adequate controls in place to prevent any problems.
They will also look at the training of managers and food handlers to ensure that it is suitable and sufficient to the tasks they are doing in their work. They will check that the condition of the premises and equipment is satisfactory.
Officers have a right to enter and inspect a food business at all reasonable hours. They do not need to make an appointment and usually visit without advance notice.
They have the power to inspect a premise, inspect food and examine records (including computerised records). They can seize and detain food, take samples and take photographs to be used as evidence.
Officers will check any written records of deliveries, suppliers, temperatures of stored products in refrigeration and cooking temperature records if cooking takes place. The management must also have records of cleaning schedules, stock control, staff training and a written risk assessment of their business.
The general cleanliness and repair standards will be assessed along with the standard of equipment and fittings. Evidence of pest control and correct refuse disposal will be examined and any member of staff may be questioned about operations they perform at work.
All areas associated with the business may be checked including staff changing rooms, storage areas, preparation areas and staff areas and facilities.
Where practices or conditions are not satisfactory, every attempt will be made to resolve the situation by informal means in line with the Council's enforcement policy. Where poor conditions persist, or where there is a risk to public health, it may be necessary to resort to formal action. This could involve either the serving of legal notice, prosecution, or in extreme cases closure of the business.
After the inspection
The officer will discuss their findings with the person in charge after the inspection. An inspection report will then be sent to the food business operator. The report will specify statutory requirements that have not being complied with and what action must be taken to comply with the law. In addition, advice on good practice and recommendations may be included.
The Council has a staged approach to enforcement and has signed up to the Enforcement Concordat which is stated within our enforcement strategy.
Some inspections reveal a need for work to be undertaken so that standards become compliant with the legal requirement. A single revisit or in some cases several revisits are necessary to chase progress on remedial works. These are not inspections and generally take much less time. There is also an expectance that businesses keep officers informed on their ongoing working progress when works have been identified from their inspections.
Requesting a re-rating visit
If you have taken action to rectify the non-compliances identified at the time of inspection, you have a right to request a re-rating visit.
You can request a re-rating for each statutory inspection received. It is possible to request this at any time, provided that the required improvements have been completed.
You must provide details of the improvements completed including supporting evidence, along with the re-rating re-visit form and payment of the fee (see fees and charges).
If we consider that you have provided sufficient evidence showing that the required improvements have been completed, then an unannounced visit will be carried out.
The officer will give you a ‘new’ food hygiene rating based on the level of compliance that is found at the time of the re-rating visit - you should be aware that your rating could go up or down, or even remain the same.
Payment can be made by telephoning 01782 717717 then please post your re-rating form to:
Food and Safety Team
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
Alternatively, once paid you can email your completed re-rating visit form by sending it to Food and Safety .
Frequency of inspections
The frequency of inspections of food premises is based upon an assessment of risk. Some food premises and businesses will present a higher risk to the consumer than others. This is dependent upon a number of factors, which include:
- The type of food business. Manufacturing or premises with a poor history are higher risk so will receive more visits
- The nature of the food being produced. Whether food is ‘ready to eat’ or raw
- The degree of handling of the food
- The size of the business.
Those premises posing a higher risk to the consumer will be inspected more frequently than those premises with a lower risk.
Food premises are inspected within the range of at least every six months (for instance food manufacturers and premises with poor hygiene history) to at least every five years. These are only minimum inspection frequencies and councils may carry out more frequent inspections or other interventions where they consider this appropriate as sometimes inspections are carried out following the receipt of consumer and hygiene complaints or national food sampling programmes.
Further information regarding inspections and businesses risk ratings can be obtained from the Food Hygiene Ratings.
Last updated 14 May 2018