Food Hygiene Inspections

Winchester City Council's Health Protection Team is responsible for ensuring high levels of food safety and hygiene at commercial premises throughout the district. This includes all premises where foodstuff is sold, distributed, manufactured, processed, prepared or handled. High standards of food safety and hygiene are essential to minimise the risk of food poisoning.

When will I receive an inspection?
Commercial premises are regularly inspected by our officers and checked for hygiene, structural condition, equipment used and food handling techniques. Inspections may also be carried out to investigate complaints from the public and to investigate alleged food poisonings. Once a premise has received an inspection it is given a risk rating score which determines when the next inspection will be, this ranges from six months for high risk premises to three years for low risk premises.

In some cases where food businesses are deemed to be low risk we may send out a questionnaire rather than making a visit to the premises. You will be advised if we want you to do this by letter or email.

What powers do Inspectors have?
Inspecting Officers have the right to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and they will usually come without advance notice. They can take samples and photographs, and inspect records. You must not obstruct inspectors.

What happens after an inspection?
Following an inspection the officer has several options available:

  • They may write to you informally asking you to put right any problems they find.
  • Where breaches of the law are identified, which must be put right, they may serve you with a formal hygiene improvement notice.
  • Officers can detain or seize suspect food.
  • In serious cases, they may decide to recommend a prosecution: if the prosecution is successful the Court may impose prohibitions on processes, the use of premises or equipment, as well as fines and possibly imprisonment.
  • If there is an imminent health risk to consumers, inspectors can serve an emergency prohibition notice which immediately forbids the use of the premises or equipment. Such a notice must subsequently be confirmed by the Court. 

Will I receive a food hygiene rating?
Most businesses will be given a food hygiene rating following an inspection. Visit our food hygiene rating page for more information.

What am I entitled to expect from the Inspectors?

  • A courteous manner
  • To be shown identification
  • Feedback from any inspection, such as information about hazards which have been identified and guidance on what you must to do to comply with the law
  • To be given the reasons in writing for any action you are asked to take
  • Where there is an apparent breach of law, a statement of what that law is
  • Reasonable time to meet statutory requirements, except where there is an immediate risk to public health
  • To be told the procedures for appealing against Local Authority action.