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Food hygiene inspections

We carry out food hygiene inspections of food businesses in the district, including small retail outlets, caterers, butchers, sandwich bars, dairies, and large manufacturing premises. We follow government codes of practice and maintain a quality assurance system for the inspection service.

Officers have the right to enter and inspect premises at all reasonable hours, except domestic premises where notice will be given. How often routine inspections happen depends on the potential risk posed by the type of business and it’s previous record.

Sometimes inspections are carried out following the receipt of consumer and hygiene complaints. Revisits may be necessary to check the completion of works and give advice.

Summary of Lancaster City Council’s policy


  • To seek to identify risks arising from the activities carried on and the effectiveness of food businesses’ own assessment of hazards and control of risks.
  • To assess the effectiveness of management control to achieve safe food.
  • To identify significant contravention’s of food hygiene legislation.
  • To provide advice, information and recommendations of practical, good food hygiene practices, in accordance with Industry Guides and relevant sector specific codes of practice where appropriate.

Planning the inspection

Review previous history by reference to computer/street file record for information on:

  • Previous risk assessment score
  • Individual risk assessment criteria ratings
  • Relevant complaints
  • Management systems
  • Layout and processing operations
  • Response to previous inspection outcomes 

Preliminary interview and inspection

Explain to proprietor the purpose behind the approach being taken to the inspection. Officers must ensure that the guidance in the Code of Practice is followed. An inspection checklist used should ensure that all the necessary points are covered and recorded.

Action to be taken when a food management system is in place

Look at whether the business has a satisfactory system for assessing food hazards and controlling risks.

Officers should base their assessment on whether a hazard analysis system complies with the regulations using the two criteria below:

  1. Does the system identify those steps in the activities of the food business which are critical to ensuring food safety; and
  2. Does the system ensure adequate safety procedures have been identified, implemented, maintained and reviewed (as necessary) to ensure food safety?

Action to be taken where no food management system exists

  1. Explain HACCP requirement.
  2. Give advice and encourage to adopt good hygiene practice e.g. that set out in Industry Guides to enable the business itself to assess its activities or the Food Standards Agency' Safer Food, Better Business
  3. Carry out full visual and physical examination. Officers can only undertake a sample assessment of the key hazards and risks associated with the business and the effectiveness of existing controls.
  4. Having identified those hazards that require control officers should consider the adequacy of existing controls.
  5. Officers should be willing to give reasonable assistance in identifying suitable and relevant control options.

Post-inspection interview

Having carried out the inspection it is important those officers, if they have not already done so during the inspection:

  • Discuss significant findings with the proprietor or other relevant person.
  • Make a clear distinction between contravention’s and recommendations of good practice.
  • Explain what enforcement action is proposed (if any).
  • Discuss solutions to problems and time scales for action.

Officers should ensure that at the completion of a food hygiene inspection:

They have made all reasonable efforts to assess the business’s operations adequately, and either:

  • Are reasonably confident that the systems in place are capable of ensuring the safety of the food; or
  • Have taken action to improve the systems and their management.


Provide and leave a report at time of inspection. A more comprehensive report is then sent detailing all legal requirements and recommendations for good practice (if necessary).

Sometimes it may be necessary to prepare improvement notices for significant contraventions. This takes the form of a legal notice and gives a timescale for the completion of works. Failure to complete works may result in more formal action i.e. formal caution or prosecution for non-compliance with the notice(s).

All documentation collected and/or produced as a result of the inspection to be kept in the premises file.

Last updated: 26 February 2019

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