Food safety inspections and enforcement

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It's a legal requirement that food business in the borough are inspected to ensure the food they produced is safe to eat. Most of these inspections are done by us, but there are a few food business that are regulated by the Food Standards Agency instead.

Our food officers visit food businesses in the borough to carry out routine inspections. They may also inspect in response to a complaint. 

Inspections are generally unannounced. The frequency of routine inspections will depend on the type of business and its previous level of compliance with legal requirements.

During your inspection, the food officer will:

·      check the condition of the premises

·      look at the kinds of food you make and prepare

·      observe methods of food preparation

·      look at your food safety management system (HACCP)

·      check the paperwork, including temperature records, receipts, cleaning schedules, pest control records and refuse contracts

·      take photographs

·      if necessary, take samples of food

The officer will then:

·      provide advice and guidance on how your business can or should improve

·      answer any queries or questions

·      confirm legal requirements

·      provide a list of works or measures that should be carried out and the timescales for compliance

Your food hygiene rating

You'll then be given your food hygiene rating from 5 (very good) down to 0 (urgent improvement necessary). Your rating will be published on the Food Standards Agency website, so that customers can make informed decisions.

Shortly afterwards, you will receive your food hygiene ratings sticker which you can display on your premises. 

Enforcement action Click to get info

In some circumstances, and when officers think it’s necessary, they can take enforcement action to protect the public. This is done by serving a notice. 

It's a criminal offence not to comply with a notice. In serious cases we can prosecute. If a prosecution is successful, the court can impose a fine. In cases where there is a history of serious non-compliance, we can apply to the court for the operator of the food business to be banned from operating.

There are three main types of notice:

  • hygiene improvement notice or food labelling improvement notice

  • hygiene emergency prohibition notice

  • remedial action notice

Hygiene improvement notice or food labelling improvement notice

This notice contains:

  • the grounds for failure to comply with a relevant provision of food law
  • the matters which constitute the failure to comply
  • the measures (or equivalent measures) the recipient is required to take

Hygiene emergency prohibition notice

This notice is served where the officer has identified an imminent risk to public health.

It results in the business having to close and then we would apply to the court for a hygiene emergency prohibition order.

Remedial action notice

This notice is used, when necessary, in relation to approved premises.

How to appeal a decision Click to get info

If you don't agree with the decision, you have two options:

  • submit an appeal - if you think your hygiene rating is wrong because it doesn't reflect the hygiene standards found at the time of your inspection
  • submit a right to reply - if you’ve improved hygiene standards since your inspection, or if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection and you want to explain this to your customers

To appeal

You can either send an email or letter, or you can download and complete the Appeal form under FHRS forms (below).

Your appeal must be made to us, in writing, within 14 days (including weekends and bank holiday) of being given your rating.

To submit a right to reply

You can either send an email or letter or complete the Right to Reply form under FHRS forms (below).  

We will publish your comments alongside your rating. It will be available to view on the Food Standards Agency website. 

FHRS forms Click to get info

Please return the forms via email to environmentalhealth@walthamforest.gov.uk or post to:

Food Safety Team
Sycamore House, Town Hall Complex
Forest Road, Walthamstow
E17 4SU