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Food Safety & Hygiene

Food

Bedford Borough Council enforces food hygiene legislation within the Borough. This legislation applies wherever food is produced, stored or sold.

 

Visits and Inspections

Food Safety Officers may visit a premises for many reasons, including:

  • Routine food hygiene inspections
  • In response to a complaint
  • As part of an educational campaign
  • To carry out food sampling

 

Officers have a right to enter any food premises at any reasonable time without giving notice, but they may give notice if they feel it is appropriate.

 

On a normal visit, an officer will expect to look at the food operation, the activities being carried out and the management of food hygiene in order to check that the food business operator is complying with food hygiene laws. The officer may offer advice and guidance, and they may speak to employees, take photographs or samples and view documentation.

 

If an officer finds a breach of food hygiene law, then they will take action to try and rectify the problem. The action taken will depend on the breach and will always be based on the principles set out in the Bedford Borough Council Enforcement Policy Statement. The possible actions include:

 

Informal action: Where the breach of the law is relatively minor the officer will tell the food business operator what they need to do to comply with the law, and explain why. The officer will also write to confirm the information provided, and will distinguish legal requirements from best practice guidance.

 

Hygiene Improvement Notice: Where the breach of the law is more serious the officer may issue a Hygiene Improvement Notice requiring the food business operator to do something in order to comply with the law. The officer will discuss the Hygiene Improvement Notice with the food business operator in order to try and resolve any points of difference and to determine a reasonable time scale prior to service if possible. The notice will state what needs to be done, why and by when. The time period to take action will be at least 14 days in order to allow the food business operator time to appeal to the local Magistrates Court if they so wish. If the notice is not complied with within the specified time limit then the officer can take further legal action.

 

Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices: Where there is an imminent risk of injury to health due to the condition of the premises or an activity being carried out there, a Hygiene Emergency prohibition Notice can be served. This notice can either close the premises or prevent the use of a particular piece of equipment, process or treatment. This Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice must then be approved by a Magistrates court to be converted into a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order.

 

Seizure of food: Where the officer is concerned that the breach of food hygiene law may mean that the food produced is not safe to eat, they may seize the food. The food will then be taken to the Magistrates court to be condemned before being destroyed.

 

Prosecution: In some cases the officer may also consider it necessary to initiate a prosecution. This decision will always be informed by the principles of the Bedford Borough Council Enforcement Policy Statement. Under food hygiene law the courts have considerable scope for punishing offenders in order to deter others. For example, a failure to comply with a Hygiene Improvement Notice can lead to a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.

 

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