We visit to see if food businesses produce food that’s safe to eat. To do this we look at:
For information about the legal requirements on food hygiene, see the Food Standards Agency website.
Trading standards officers from Suffolk County Council may also visit to check how you describe food, for example on a menu or label, to make sure the description is not misleading for customers.
We might perform a routine inspection due to a complaint or for other types of interventions. How often we inspect depends on the type of business and its previous record. Some businesses might be inspected every six months, others much less often. Inspectors have the right to enter and inspect at all reasonable hours, they do not have to make an appointment and will usually come without notice.
When inspectors visit they must follow the Food Law Code of Practice. You can expect the inspectors to show you identification when they arrive and be polite throughout the visit. They should always give you feedback on an intervention. They will tell you about any problems they have identified and advise you about how they can be avoided. If they advise you to do something, they must tell you whether you need to do it to comply with the law e.g. legal requirement, or whether it’s good practice e.g. recommendation.
If you’re asked to take any action as a result of the inspection, you must be given the reasons in writing. If the inspector decides you are breaking a law, they will tell you what that law is and be given a reasonable amount of time to make changes. Where there’s an imminent risk of injury to health you will be expected to take immediate action. They will also tell you how you can appeal against their actions.
When they think it’s necessary, inspectors can take enforcement action to protect the public. For example, they can:
They can also serve you with a notice. There are three main ones:
In serious cases inspectors can also recommend a prosecution. If a prosecution is successful, the court may prohibit you from using certain processes, premises or equipment, or you could be banned from managing a food business. It could also lead to a fine or imprisonment.
If you do not agree with action taken by an inspector, you should first tell the inspector. If you still do not agree, contact the Food and Safety Manager on 03330 162 000 or via email to see if the problem can be resolved informally.
If you still disagree you can use our formal complaint procedure.
The Food Standards Agency’s Independent Business Appeal Panel will consider any complaint or appeal from a business against food safety and food standards advice given by a local authority. Before contacting the panel, the business must have raised a formal complaint or appeal with its local authority and these must have concluded.
You can appeal to the Magistrates’ Court about a decision to issue a Hygiene Improvement Notice or Remedial Action Notice, or not to lift a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition order. When there is a ban on an individual, this can only be lifted by the court. When inspectors impose a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on premises, a process, or a piece of equipment, they must apply to the court for confirmation within a specified period of time.
Food that has been seized by an inspector can only be condemned as unfit for human consumption on the authority of a Justice of the Peace. You can attend the court hearing if you want to. If the court decides premises have been shut without proper reason, or food has been wrongly seized or detained, you have a right to compensation.