Food safety inspections

Guidance and information about food safety inspections

Our environmental health officers have powers to enter and inspect commercial premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and will usually come without notice during normal opening hours in daytime, evenings and weekends.

The format of food safety inspections is set out by the Food Standards Agency in the Food Law Code of Practice on their website.

The frequency of inspection will depend on the public health risk posed by the business, this can vary from 6 months to 18 months. Scores are based on the following criteria:

  • type of food prepared, method of handling and whether a high risk process is used (e.g. vacuum packing or cook-chill processes)
  • the number of consumers at risk and whether they are a high risk group (e.g. young children, pregnant women, the elderly or immuno-suppressed)
  • compliance with legislation and codes of practice including hygiene controls, structural requirements and
  • confidence in management systems such as documented food safety controls called Safer Food Better Business (SFBB).

We have the power to take samples, photographs and inspect records. We can detain or seize any food that we suspect is unsafe. If there is an imminent risk to health, we may serve a hygiene emergency prohibition notice, which prevents the use of a process, premises or a specific piece of equipment. In most cases we will advise and support businesses to solve problems. However, where there are concerns that public safety is being put at risk, we will consider legal action.

Inspection process

We will introduce ourselves, produce identification and explain why the inspection is being carried out (i.e. whether it is following a complaint or a routine inspection). We will discuss issues with the proprietor/owner/manager of the business or the person responsible for food safety on site, often referred to as the food business operator.

During the visit we may look at the condition and structure of all of the food rooms, take temperature readings of equipment, watch food being prepared, and question staff and/or the proprietor about food handling practices and procedures.

We will check that any paperwork relating to suppliers, temperature records, hazard analysis, cleaning schedules, refuse contracts and pest control records etc are up to date and being completed correctly.

After the inspection

We will discuss the findings of the inspection, making it clear what is a legal requirement and what is a recommendation. We will also be happy to answer any queries and agree time scales within which the work should be completed. A letter detailing these requirements will be sent following the inspection with your food hygiene rating score, unless this has been provided in writing at the time of the inspection.

A follow-up visit may be needed to check that any matters requiring attention have been suitably addressed. In some instances, we may consider improvement notices, prohibitions on the business or equipment and, in some circumstances, prosecution.

It is vital that you contact the inspecting officer (or, in their absence, our commercial services manager) if work cannot be completed within the time scale agreed. Contact details will be included on any correspondence sent to you.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

After an inspection, we issue businesses with a food hygiene rating. Further information on this scheme and how the score is assessed is available at the hygiene ratings page on the FSA website or on our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme page.

Food sampling

We routinely sample food from food businesses. Samples of food or the environment (swabs) are checked for microbiological quality, and food standards.

Approved premises

We are required to inspect and approve any food premises which fall under the definition of approved premises under the following legislation:

  • Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
  • Regulation EC No 852/2004 / Regulation EC No 853/2004 / Regulation EC No 854/2004.

Approved premises usually produce products of animal origin such as meat, fish, and dairy and do not sell to the final consumer. There are exemptions and these are defined in the legislation.

Premises that may require approval

In general the following types of food business establishment require approval:

  • food manufacturers producing products of animal origin
  • home caterers selling products of animal origin to other businesses
  • central production kitchens which supply caterers or retailers
  • stand alone cold stores
  • establishments that pack or wrap (or repack or re-wrap) products of animal origin such as meat fish dairy or egg products.

This is not an exhaustive list.

Premises that don't require approval

In general the following types of food business establishment will not require approval as long as food is not sold on to other food business establishments:

  • restaurants / cafes / takeaways / supermarkets and other retailers / mobile food units / workplace or institutional catering operations.

If you think you may need approval, please contact us to discuss your operation, and to submit an application if necessary.


Cake makers guide - advice on making cakes at home (pdf 3.3MB).

To view the Environmental Health Service Standard, Annual Report and Enforcement Policy please visit the environmental health homepage.

Contact details

Hammersmith & Fulham Council
The Environment Department
Regulatory Services
Food and Safety Team
Hammersmith Town Hall
W6 9JU

020 8753 1081

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