Food premises registration and inspection

All food businesses in the district are visited on a regular basis - restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, corner shops, warehouses and manufacturers. The frequency of visits depends on the nature of the business and the condition of the premises.  The better the management of the business, the less often we go.

Almost all food premises must be registered with the competent authority (in this case, Taunton Deane Borough Council). If you are a new business please register online at Gov.uk.  Alternatively you can download a food premises registration form and send it into us.

If you operate a childminder business and provide food as part of your service, you do not need to register separately with us as a food business. This will happen automatically when you register with Ofsted via Somerset County Council. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) website provides further information regarding registration and food for childminders.

Visits to premises are carried out, as far as possible, without prior notification and are priority programmed according to the degree of potential risk. This ensures that higher risk premises are visited more frequently than those in lower risk categories. A wide range of options are available to deal with any problems found.  These range from just giving advice to prosecution.

During an inspection, officers will want to reassure themselves that potential food safety risks have been identified by the business, and that there are adequate controls in place to prevent any problems. They will also look at the training of managers and food handlers to ensure that it is suitable, and they will check that the condition of the premises and equipment is satisfactory.

The purpose of an Inspection is to:

Where practices or conditions are not satisfactory, every attempt will be made to resolve the situation by informal means, but where poor conditions persist, or where there is a risk to public health it may be necessary to resort to formal action. This could involve either the service of legal notice, prosecution, or in extreme cases closure of the business.

The proprietor of every food business is responsible for ensuring that their business complies with the relevant legislation.

Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 states that food business operators shall put in place, implement and maintain permanent procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

In effect, food business operators need to show some evidence that they have thought about their business procedures, identified significant hazards, and know how to control them.

The level of documentation required will depend on the size and nature of the food business.

Safer food, better business (SFBB) is a food safety management system which has been developed by the FSA to assist smaller businesses and is available for either caterers or retailers.  However, should a business have already successfully implemented another food safety system, there is no requirement to change and adopt SFBB instead.

SFBB is a simple fact sheet system that shows how to ensure that the major potential hazards in catering or retail business can be safely controlled, namely those to do with the ‘4 Cs’:

The fact sheets are called ‘Safe Methods’.  The idea is to look at the pack and decide which safe methods apply to your business, and follow them.  You will be required to fill in what you do on some safe methods, and you may find that some safe methods do not apply to your business.

A simple diary is also provided for appropriate record keeping.  Also included is a four-weekly review to ensure that the document remains up-to-date and to allow common problems to be identified and addressed.  Other blank template documents such as a suppliers list, cleaning schedule and staff training record are provided.

You can download a Safer food, better business for caterers pack from the FSA website.

A comprehensive range of information is available on the internet to help food business operators.

Information on the following subjects can be found on the FSA website:

• Starting a food business
• Safer Food Better Business
• HACCP

The Gov.uk food, catering and retail web page is also a valuable source of information for food business operators.

Following a food hygiene inspection food businesses are given a rating in a scheme developed by the FSA in partnership with local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland called the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme (FHRS).  Premises which are given a rating include restaurants, takeaways, cafes, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets as well as any other business where consumers can eat or buy food.

The food hygiene rating provides information on food hygiene standards to help people to choose where to eat out or shop for food. The rating is worked out following a food hygiene inspection by an officer from the Council.  The officer will look at the standard of hygiene found at the time of the visit.  These include:

• How hygienically the food is handled – eg safe food preparation and procedures including cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage.

• The condition of the structure of the premises – eg cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities.

• How food safety is managed and documented – eg. using systems such as SFBB or equivalent. The officer also looks at the premises history and confidence in management to improve/maintain standards

Once a business has been rated they will be given a rating certificate that they will be asked to display, although they are not legally obliged to do so.

After an inspection, there's a 21 day period in which food businesses can apply to appeal if they feel that the inspecting officer awarded them a rating which they feel is unfair.

If an appeal is made, we will respond within seven days. No food hygiene rating will be displayed until the appeal has been decided.

Food businesses can also make a request for a further visit to re-score the premises.  This request can be made at any time, but the revisit will not take place until at least three months from the initial inspection (the "standstill" period).

Only one requested revisit will take place, other than in exceptional circumstances. The business operator will need to explain the improvements that have made since the initial inspection on the revisit request form.

Any revisit that we do will be unannounced and will take place in the three months following the "standstill" period. The inspecting officer will not only check that the required improvements have been made, but will also assess the level of compliance that is found overall.  This means that the score could go up, down or remain the same.

Food businesses have a 'right to reply' which will be published on the FSA website with the score. The purpose is to enable food businesses to give an explanation of what's been done since the inspection to put the problems right.

The text may be edited before being published on the website in order to remove any offensive, defamatory, clearly inaccurate or irrelevant remarks.

More information about appealing, requesting a re-visit and the right to reply can be found on the FHRS frequently asked questions page on the FSA website.

Laws and regulation

As a food business operator you will need to be aware of the food hygiene laws that came into force on 1 January 2006. As of that date food businesses need to comply with the requirements of European Union Regulations.

• Regulation (EU) No. 178/2002
• Regulation (EU) No. 852/2004
• Regulation (EU) No. 853/2004
• The Food Hygiene (England) Regulation 2006
• The General Food Regulations 2004

A more comprehensive list of legislation can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.