Food safety inspections

Food safety inspections

Food businesses in Newcastle are subject to regular food hygiene inspections.

Our food safety team will:

  • check whether food is being stored, handled and produced hygienically
  • check whether food is, or will be, safe to eat
  • look for where food safety and standards may not be correct
  • enforce food safety laws

Our officers have the right to enter and inspect food businesses at all reasonable times, without prior notice or appointment (unless it is someone's home).

Inspection visits

Our inspectors will:

  • look at how you are running your business
  • make sure that any potential food safety risks have been identified
  • make sure an appropriate food safety management system is in place
  • provide advice, guidance and support to help you meet your legal obligations

This will include:

  • checking your documents and records are correct
  • speaking to staff to confirm their food safety knowledge
  • checking the business has working food safety controls

It may also include: 

  • taking food temperature readings
  • taking photographs
  • taking food samples to check its condition or to identify any source of contamination
  • taking environmental swabs

More samples may be taken if unsatisfactory results are received. 

How often inspections take place

After your first food hygiene inspection, your business will be given a risk rating. This rating determines when your business will next be inspected. 

In making this assessment we consider:

  • the type of food that is handled
  • the number and type of customers (eg. vulnerable groups)
  • what you do to it before the food is sold or served
  • hygiene standards seen on the day of the inspection

Businesses that pose a higher risk are inspected more often than businesses that pose a lower risk.

The time between inspections varies from six months for the highest risk businesses, to 18 to 24 months for lower risk businesses, and for some very low risk businesses it could be longer.

After an inspection

If, during an inspection, breaches of the law are identified then the inspecting officer can, to ensure compliance and protect public safety:

  • provide verbal advice and outline any minor breaches on a hand written report
  • send a formal letter or report outlining breaches and what needs to be done to fix them
  • serve a hygiene improvement notice (HIN) which legally requires you to make changes within a certain time period
  • serve a hygiene emergency prohibition notice barring you from using equipment, a process or an entire premises.

Inspecting officers will allow you enough time to make changes unless there is an immediate risk to public health.

Food hygiene rating

After an inspection, if it falls within the scope of the scheme, your business will be awarded a food hygiene rating.

For more information please see our food hygiene rating scheme page.  

If a complaint is made

If we receive a complaint or information about a business that we are not due to inspect, and it suggests hygiene standards are not being maintained, then our food safety officers will investigate and take appropriate enforcement action.