Mole Valley District Council's (MVDC) is responsible for ensuring that food which is produced, prepared, distributed or sold in the district is safe and fit to eat. This is done by providing advice to food businesses and by carrying out regular inspections of businesses to check that they are complying with the relevant food safety legislation.
MVDC's role is to:
- establish whether food is being handled and produced hygienically
- establish whether food is, or will be, safe to eat
- look for areas of concern that suggest incidences of food poisoning or injury could be a possibility as a consequence of consumption of contaminated food
- enforce the provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990, and other relevant food safety legislation in all commercial food premises located within Mole Valley
MVDC has the right to enter and inspect commercial food premises at all reasonable hours. Officers do not have to make an appointment and they will usually come without advance notice. Inspectors might come on a routine inspection, and the frequency of inspection will depend upon the type of business and its previous record. Those premises in the highest risk category can expect a visit at least every six months, medium risk businesses 12 - 18 months and the lowest risk businesses may receive another form of contact, such as a self-assessment questionnaire.
An Inspection Visit
The inspector will look at the general operation of the business, ensuring that potential food safety risks have been adequately identified and controlled in the business through an appropriate Food Safety Management System.
This will include checking the documentation/records, speaking to staff to confirm levels of food safety knowledge and checking that businesses are implementing effective food safety controls. Officers may also take readings of temperatures of delivered, stored and cooked food items. Photographs may be taken.
Officers may take food samples to check on the bacteriological condition of food or to identify any possible source of contamination. Further samples may be taken when unsatisfactory results are received. The officer may also take samples when investigating food complaints.
MVDC knows that most businesses want to comply with the law and officers will provide free advice and guidance to ensure food businesses and others meet their legal obligations without unnecessary expense.
After the Inspection
The hygiene standards found at the time of the inspection are rated on a scale. At the bottom of the scale is zero - this means urgent improvement is required. At the top of the scale is five - this means the hygiene standards are very good. See the 'Food Hygiene Rating Scheme' page for more information.
When you eat out or shop for food, you might see a sticker in the window or on the door, or a certificate on display, showing the hygiene rating for that business.
Businesses are encouraged to display these stickers and certificates at their premises in a place where they can easily be seen.
If you're planning to eat out or buy food, you can search the Food Standards Agency website to find out scores for premises in your area.
If you are not happy with your result
If you are unhappy with the food hygiene rating score placed on your premises, you can appeal by any of the three following options:
Right to reply
This gives you the opportunity to explain what actions you have taken since the inspection, or explain mitigating circumstances that may have affected your score. Your comments will be published on the FSA website and displayed together with your food hygiene rating score. Please note, your comments may be edited to remove offensive or defamatory remarks.
You have the right to appeal against the food hygiene rating you have been issued with. You have 14 days (including bank holidays and weekends) from the date of the receipt of your notification of the rating, to appeal.
Request a re-visit
You can request one re-visit per each planned statutory inspection at any time after the statutory inspection takes place. You must provide details of the improvements made with your request, including supporting evidence where appropriate. A three month standing-still period after the original inspection is normally required before a re-visit will be made. The re-visit will be unannounced and a risk rating will be given on the level of compliance that is found at the time of the re-visit. The rating score can go down as well as up.
The Food Standards Agency website contains further useful information on food safety.