Food Businesses

Businesses that produce or prepare food for the public are inspected by our environmental health staff to make sure that:

  • the food is safe to eat.
  • the description of the food doesn't mislead the consumer.

Who Will Inspect My Business?

Environmental Health Officers will inspect your premises to check on food hygiene and food standards, such as composition (what food contains) and labelling.

When Will My Business Be Inspected?

Your business can be visited as part of a routine inspection or because of a complaint.

How often the inspectors routinely inspect your business depends on the type of business and your business’ previous record. Some premises may be inspected at least every 6 months, others much less often.

Environmental Health Officers have the right to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and will usually arrive without notice.

What Will The Inspectors Do When They Visit?

The inspectors will look at how you operate your business to identify potential hazards, and to make sure that your business is following the law.  When inspectors visit, they must follow the Food Standard Agency's Framework Agreement on Local Authority Food Law Enforcement, and relevant Food Safety Order Codes of Practice. The Framework Agreement sets standards for how local authorities carry out their enforcement duties. You can read it on the Food Standards Agency website here.

You can expect the inspectors to show you identification when they arrive, and be polite throughout the visit. They should always give you feedback on an inspection. This means that they will tell you about any hazards which they have identified, and advise you about how they can be avoided.  If inspectors advise you to do something, they must tell you whether you need to do it to comply with the law, or whether it would simply be good practice to do so.

If you are asked to take any action as a result of the inspection, you must be given the reasons in writing. If the inspectors decide that you are breaking a law, they must tell you what that law is.  The inspectors should give you a reasonable amount of time to make changes except where there is an immediate risk to public health.

What Further Action Can The Inspectors Take?

When they think it is necessary, inspectors can take enforcement action to protect the public. For example, they can:

  • write to you informally asking you to put right any problems.
  • serve you with an 'improvement notice' if you are breaking the law, which sets out certain things that you must do to comply.
  • detain or seize suspect foods
  • serve an 'emergency prohibition notice' which forbids the use of the premises or equipment. (this notice must be confirmed by a court)
  • recommend a prosecution in serious cases.

If a prosecution is successful, the Court may prohibit you from using certain processes, premises, or equipment, or you could be banned from managing a food business. It could also lead to a fine.

Contact the Environmental Health service on 03000 132 132, E: [email protected]

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