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Food inspections

An authorised food safety officer will inspect food businesses in the local authority area of Cumberland Council (always ask to see some form of official identification – if in doubt call us).

The Council works to the Food Safety Code of Practice and to meet this, inspections are normally carried out without prior notice, and the inspection time varies. They could be carrying out a routine inspection or visiting as a result of a complaint. They will look at the way you operate your business to identify potential hazards and make sure that you are complying with the law.

How often businesses are inspected depends on the risk associated with the particular business, which in turn depends on the kind of business for example; a restaurant poses a higher potential risk than a shop selling only packaged food, and therefore would need to be visited more often;  and the condition of the business itself, as assessed by the inspector at each visit.  Inspection intervals range from every six months (highest risk) to every three years (lowest risk).

It is expected that officer advice is taken on board by a food business operator following a visit and a report of the visit being issued.

During an inspection the officer(s) will:

  • talk to staff about your quality control systems and practices and check you are doing what you say you are doing in your food safety management systems
  • inspect all parts of your premises and equipment
  • assess the level of staff training and your control of hazards and temperature control
  • rate your operation under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, where appropriate, according to the brand standard

The inspecting officer(s) may also request relevant documentation including recipes, maintenance and productions records, temperature records, food safety management systems, staff sickness records. Inspectors may also take samples and swabs as part of a routine inspection.

Most food business operators tell us that they appreciate and value our visits and feedback. If a food business is committed to good standards of food safety and staff are knowledgeable about the food safety risks a food hygiene, inspection should be a co-operative and helpful intervention and support business growth.

Where that commitment or knowledge is lacking and food safety is compromised the Council will consider enforcement action in line with our Enforcement Policy.

The most common reasons for poor food hygiene rating and/or enforcement action include:

  • selling unsafe food
  • failing to address prior to a next inspection food safety contraventions identified during a visit
  • not having or using documented food safety systems to control food risks
  • consistently poor standards of cleanliness and hygiene
  • not having appropriately trained staff
  • poor personal hygiene including a lack of wash hand basin and hot water supply
  • inadequate pest control

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