Somerset Council has a legal duty to hold a register and inspect all food businesses. Food safety officers must assess the food safety risk at each food business. The risks identified determines how often a food business needs to be inspected.

When will a food officer visit

A food officer has the right to enter and inspect your food business at any reasonable time without giving you any notice. However, officers will contact food businesses that operate from home at least 24 hours before they intend to inspect. It is an offence to prevent an officer entering your premises but they should always be carrying identification to demonstrate their authority. If you are ever in doubt, ask to see this identification.

What will a food officer do when they visit

On arrival a food officer:

  • will identify themselves at the beginning of the inspection
  • should be polite throughout the inspection
  • will want to look at and discuss your food safety management system
  • will ask questions about food safety hazards
  • may want to talk to members of staff to check their level of food hygiene knowledge
  • will make notes during the visit of your responses, the practices witnessed and the structure of your premises
  • should discuss the visit with you before leaving, making clear any actions that you need to take to comply with the law or those that are just simply good practice
  • will issue you with a report at the time of visit or will send you a letter and Notice
  • will issue your food hygiene rating sticker.

What else can food officers do

To protect the health of the public, food officers can also take other enforcement action. This may include:

  • taking photographs
  • inspecting written and computerised records
  • take samples
  • detain or seize suspect food
  • serve an emergency prohibition notice prohibiting a premises, part of a premises, equipment or a person being involved in a food business
  • advise prosecution or issue of a formal caution.

How often will my business be inspected

During the visit an officer has to assess and score the food safety risk. If the score is high the food business will be inspected more often. Information about your scoring will be left with you at the time of the inspection or will be posted soon afterwards.

A food officer may also visit a food business to investigate a complaint they have received about you, your staff, your premises or your practices.

Food safety inspections and enforcement

Please visit How to prepare your business for food safety inspections and avoid enforcement action for further advice.

Request an inspection revisit

Please see our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme page for details on how to request a revisit for a new rating.

Food hygiene rating

To find a food hygiene rating for a business, visit Food Standards Agency – Food hygiene rating.

Food sampling policy

Last reviewed: January 18, 2024 by Adam

Next review due: July 18, 2024

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