Food sampling

We recognise the important contribution food sampling makes to the protection of public health and the food law enforcement functions of the authority. We regularly undertake food sampling within the district, and our activities reflect current national, regional and locally co-ordinated programmes.

Samples can be taken as a result of:

  • Complaints
  • Process monitoring
  • Inspections
  • Home Authority Principle Activities
  • Special investigations
  • Food that is imported

Legislation

Whilst the Food Safety Act 1990, the Food Safety (Samping and Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2013 provide a framework for Food Authority sampling which is carried out specifically with a view to pursuing legal action if the result shows an offence has been committed, it is important to recognise that samples may also be taken for the purposes of surveillance, monitoring and providing advice to food business operators.

All sampling is undertaken having regard to:

  • The Food Law Code of Practice
  • The Food Law Practice Guidance (England)

What do we look for?

Food can be contaminated in a number of ways. For example, microbiological contamination, physical contamination and chemical contamination.

Our food sampling is principally undertaken to assess the microbiological quality of food. Click here for guidelines relating to the microbiological quality of ready-to-eat foods at the point of sale.

Sampling programmes

Our sampling programmes are determined by the following:

National food sampling programmes:

  • The Food Standards Agency, as part of the EC co-ordinated sampling programme
  • Local Authority Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards (LACORS)
  • Public Health England (PHE)
     

Local sampling programmes:
Local surveys can be prompted for various reasons including:

  • A follow up to a food poisoning incident
  • Local problems highlighted as a result of taking part in national or regional surveys

Food complaints

We often receive samples of food collected from members of the public due to a complaint about the food. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the food may be sent off for microbiological analysis or the Public Health Analyst. If you a complaint about food which you have purchased, please keep the food refrigerated until a food safety officer has made arrangements to collect it.

Process Monitoring

The council regularly samples from on farm dairies within the district to ensure the heat treatment of the raw milk is sufficient enough to not cause a risk to public health.

Inspections

Food sampling will not normally be undertaken as part of normal food hygiene inspections. However inspections may highlight the need for future samples to be taken from a premises.

Home/Originating Authority responsibilities

Currently we do not act as a ‘Home Authority’ for any food business within its district.

Special Investigations

Special circumstances may arise during a year when there is a need for samples to be undertaken.

Imported foods

We will sample food from premises identified as being 'food importers'.

Last updated: 16 August 2017