Food business inspections

There are many locally registered food premises in Aberdeenshire including retail, catering and manufacturing businesses.

Approximately 10% of food businesses are involved in food production with a range of specialist processes such as:

  • Cheese and butter production
  • Confectionery
  • Bottled water
  • Soft drinks
  • Canning
  • Ice cream and yoghurt
  • Biscuits
  • Sandwich fillings
  • Honey
  • Preserves
  • Fish and shellfish products
    Meat products

There is a significant export of foods from Aberdeenshire to the rest of the UK, Europe and the world, particularly in relation to fish, fish products and shellfish.

The Food Safety service is responsible for inspecting these premises to make sure they meet the requirements of food hygiene and standards regulations.

Inspections are carried out in accordance with national guidance. Individual premises are scored after each inspection, by the inspecting officer, to determine a risk rating which sets how often inspection is done.

Frequency of inspections can vary from once every 6 months to once every three years, although additional visits may be made for other purposes.

Food enforcement officers have powers to take action against food businesses who fail to comply with the law. This enforcement action is contained in the Food Law Enforcement Policy and Procedure and can range from verbal advice or a warning letter, to the issue of Formal Notices for improvement or prohibition from operating or even referring major deficiencies to the Procurator Fiscal for prosecution.

The courts can impose severe penalties for non-compliance including closing a business or prohibiting a person from operating a food business.

The purpose of a food hygiene inspection is to:

  • Establish the scope of the business and the relevant food law applying to all operations and activities
  • Observe and discuss with food handlers and proprietors all practices, procedures and processes
  • Identify the hazards posed by the activities of the business
  • Verify that the food safety management system is operational and controls are in place and operating efficiently
  • Determine whether to take samples of raw materials, ingredients or finished product
  • Identify any breaches of food law and gather evidence
  • Determine the appropriate enforcement action to be taken

At the conclusion of every inspection the officer will discuss with the manager or food business operator any contravention of food law discovered, corrective action necessary and recommendations of best practice considered appropriate.

A written report confirming the inspection findings is produced and sent to the food business operator in accordance with the Food Hygiene Inspection Policy and Procedure.