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Food law enforcement

Food law inspections

The main purpose of a food law inspection is to ensure food safety. The inspecting officer will seek to establish whether food is:

  • being handled, stored and produced hygienically
  • is labelled and presented in compliance with all relevant legal requirements

Food Standards Scotland provide guidance.

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 business food hygiene ratings

UK Ratings Data

Data provides the food hygiene rating, or inspection result, given to a business. It reflects the standards of food hygiene found on the date of inspection, or visit, by the local authority. Businesses include:

  • restaurants
  • pubs
  • cafés
  • takeaways
  • hotels
  • other places consumers eat
  • supermarkets and other food shops

Data is held on behalf of local authorities participating in either the Food Standards Agency's:

  • national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, or
  • the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) in Scotland

Data is only available for local authority areas running either of these schemes. View a list of local authorities running the FHRS or FHIS.

Please follow the terms and conditions contained within the Download Ratings Data | Food Standards Agency.

Frequency of inspections

Frequency of inspection is determined by risk assessing the business following inspection. The resultant average score and business type dictate the minimum inspection frequency. The risk rating system considers seven compliance categories:

  • Food Safety practices
  • cross contamination controls
  • structural requirements
  • food information (labelling, advertising and presentation)
  • compositional requirements
  • Food Safety Management System performance
  • level of confidence in management

In addition to the use of average scores to determine the inspection frequency, businesses with serious breaches will receive another inspection within one month, where they score 5 in any of the above categories.

Businesses with significant non compliances and scoring 4 in three of the above categories will be inspected again in 3 months.

Risk assessment ensures that inspection resources are targeted at non-compliant establishments.

It is not normal practice to give prior notification of inspections. In certain circumstances, visits are carried out by appointment.

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. 

In addition, 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 may 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 food hygiene training providers based in the West of Scotland.

Enforcement action

Enforcement action is taken in accordance with the council's Food Enforcement Policy (PDF, 162kb). The aim is that enforcement is conducted in a reasonable, proportionate, transparent and consistent manner. 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 law standards, an authorised officer has a range of powers to deal with non-compliance. Normally starting with written warnings. If businesses remain non-compliant, notices can be served. Notices compel improvement by a certain time. Some can immediately prohibit some, or all, aspects of the food business. 

In addition, an authorised officer can report breaches of the legislation to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to prosecution via the court system. 

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