Food Safety & Hygiene
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
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.