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Home   Business   Environmental health   Food safety inspections and enforcement

Food safety inspections and enforcement

Food hygiene inspections

The main purpose of a food hygiene inspection is to establish whether food is being handled, stored and produced hygienically and in compliance with legal requirements, and is therefore safe to eat.

Food hygiene information scheme

To check if a food business passed their last hygiene inspection, look for the Food hygiene information scheme PASS sign:


Search for individual business food hygiene ratings

Food standards inspections

A food standards inspection deals with labelling, presentation and composition. It involves the study of menus, recipes, labels and any claims made. Inspections are designed to cover all stages in the food chain from production to point of sale.

Food Standards Scotland provides further guidance.

Where practical, a joint food hygiene and food standards inspection is undertaken.

Frequency of inspections

The inspection frequency is determined by risk assessing the business following inspection. The resultant score dictates the minimum inspection frequency. The risk rating system considers:

  • the type & size of business
  • the level of food safety management
  • conditions noted during inspection.

Premises providing food to vulnerable groups, eg children or the elderly, are subject to an additional weighting which may result in more frequent visits.

It is not normal practice to give prior notification of inspections. Some visits are carried out by appointment if the visit is to look at documentation, or discussions are required with a specific employee or the business proprietor.

Food hygiene training

If you are in charge of a business selling or supplying food, the law requires you to make sure that any member of staff who handles food is supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene in a way appropriate for the work they do. 

The person responsible for developing and maintaining your food safety management procedures must have received training to enable them to do this. 

There is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course or get a qualification.

Necessary skills could be obtained through:

  • on the job training
  • self study
  • relevant prior experience

However for staff preparing food, a training course may be the easiest way to ensure staff have sufficient knowledge.

Courses are available from local food hygiene training providers (PDF, 177kb).

Enforcement action

Enforcement action is taken in accordance with the council's Food Enforcement Policy (PDF, 162kb). The main aim of the Policy is that enforcement is conducted in a reasonable, proportionate, transparent and consistent manner.

The main objectives are to: 

  • carry out a risk based inspection and sampling programme covering all food businesses within North Ayrshire Council in line with documented procedures, based on the relevant legislation, Code of Practice and guidance notes
  • work with businesses in an open and transparent manner to help them, where necessary, improve the safety of food and level of compliance with relevant legislation
  • respond to complaints about food safety, hygiene of food premises, food labelling or food composition, originating from premises or purchases made within North Ayrshire.

To ensure consistent enforcement, the council is represented on various groups such as the West of Scotland Food Liaison Group.

Failing to meet standards

Where a business fails to meet the required food hygiene standards, an authorised officer has a range of powers to deal with non-compliance. Normally a graduated approach is taken; starting with written warnings. Notices can be served compelling improvement by a certain time, some of which can have the effect of prohibiting all or some aspects of the food business. An authorised officer can report breaches of the legislation to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to prosecution via the court system. 

Following successful prosecution, an order may be made prohibiting guilty persons from operating a food business again.