Your business and food law inspections
What inspectors do
If you run a business that makes or prepares food, it will be inspected to make sure you are following food law. The inspectors will be enforcement officers from your local authority (or district council in Northern Ireland); they will check if your business produces food that is safe to eat and that meets food standards. To do this they will look at:
- your premises
- the kinds of food you make or prepare
- how you work
- your food management system
When they think it is necessary, inspectors can take 'enforcement action', to protect the public.
When you disagree
If an inspector has given you written advice requiring you to take action to put matters right (but has not served an enforcement notice) and you disagree with, you should first discuss this with them.
If you are unable to resolve the issue with the person you have been dealing with, ask them for the name of their manager (letters from local authorities will usually give this information). You can then ask to speak with, or if you prefer, write to them to see if the issue can be resolved.
All councils also have formal mechanisms for considering complaints or appeals against the actions of their officials. If you disagree with the outcome of this, you could approach your local councillor or contact your local government or public services ombudsman.
If the matter is associated with a legal notice or formal enforcement actions there will be specific appeals arrangements, including time limits, which will accompany the relevant documentation. This will involve an appeal to the magistrates’ court (or a Sheriff in Scotland).
Food hygiene rating appeal process
If you think the food hygiene rating or inspection result given to your food business is unfair or wrong, the owner or manager of the business should initially approach the local authority food safety officer that inspected the business about why the rating or inspection result was given.
If your still think that the rating or inspection result for your business is unfair or wrong, there is a specific appeal process associated with the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, or the Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland, which involve an appeal in writing to the local authority’s lead officer for food.
Make an appeal against a port health authority
If you disagree with enforcement action taken by a port health officer relating to imported food and animal feed – for example, a consignment being seized at a seaport or airport – you can get advice on redress options via the link below.
FSA Independent Business Appeals Panel
In England, the FSA has introduced a new Independent Business Appeals Panel. This is in response to the government's small food manufacturers review (part of the Focus on Enforcement Campaign). From January 2014, the FSA’s Independent Business Appeal Panel will consider complaints or appeals against advice given by local authorities in England about food safety and food standards that you think is incorrect or goes beyond what is legally required.
Before submitting details about your issue to the panel, you must have raised a formal complaint or appeal with your local authority and these must have concluded. Also, you should check whether you have grounds for an appeal before contacting the panel. More information about how to do this can be found immediately below.