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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 and is labelled and presented in compliance with all relevant legal requirements.

To help food business operators comply with food law, guidance is provided by Food Standards Scotland 

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

UK Ratings Data

The data provides the food hygiene rating or inspection result given to a business and 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 and other places consumers eat, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.

The 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

The inspection frequency 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 7 compliance categories:

  • Food Safety Practices
  • Cross Contamination controls
  • Structural requirements
  • Food Information (labelling, advertising and presentation)
  • Compositional requirements
  • Food Safety Management System performance
  • The 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.

The risk assessment system ensures that inspection resources are targeted at non-compliant establishments.

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

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 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 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 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 law standards, an authorised officer has a range of powers to deal with non-compliance. Normally a graduated approach is taken, starting with written warnings. However, should businesses remain non-compliant, notices can be served compelling improvement by a certain time, some of which can have the effect of immediately prohibiting 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.

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