Environmental health staff carry out food hygiene inspections of food premises, either as part of a routine inspection programme or following a complaint.

How often a premise is inspected is dependent upon the type of business, the standard of hygienic practices, the standard of the structure and the legally required paperwork. Officers score each food business against the national Code of Practice.

Officers have the right of entry to commercial businesses at all reasonable hours and do not have to make an appointment. But in the case of food businesses operated from a domestic address a minimum of 48 hours notice of inspection is given.

Officers will consider the structure, hygienic practices and written procedures amongst other matters such as training, pest control, date coding of food and prevention of cross contamination.

Matters requiring work will be highlighted at the time of the inspection and business will be given advice, this can be followed with a report detailing legally required works and recommendations and a given timescale in which to complete the works.

The overall duty of the food teams is to protect the public and, where conditions are found to have fallen below the accepted legal minimum, formal enforcement action will be considered. Any formal action taken is with regard to the council's enforcement policy.

Assessment and food hygiene ratings

The assessment of the food business following inspection will also provide the rating score as part of the National Food Hygiene ratings scheme. Businesses are provided with a certificate and sticker for display as the premises and the rating details are available on the Food Standards Agency hygiene ratings website.

Some businesses that process food of animal origin (making cheese, meat and fish products) may need approval to operate.

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