Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is a system which allows the public to view the latest hygiene rating following a programmed food hygiene inspection

We believe that effective routine food sampling is an essential part of a well-balanced enforcement service and undertakes to provide the resources necessary to carry out a food sampling programme.  Whilst food safety legislation provides a framework for food sampling which is carried out specifically with a view to pursuing legal action, it is important to appreciate that samples are taken for the purposes of surveillance, monitoring and providing advice to food business operators.

Types of Sampling

There are two main types of sampling;

  • Informal sampling
  • Formal sampling

The majority of sampling which we carry out is informal sampling.  This is mainly a surveillance exercise where samples are either purchased anonymously or by agreement with the proprietor.  No formal action can be taken if the informal samples are found to be incorrect.  Where informal sampling reveals a problem, this can be followed up either by giving advice to the proprietor and re-sampling informally or by sampling formally.  Formal sampling can result in legal action being taken.

When do we Take Samples?

We choose what foods to sample mainly by following a sampling programme set out by LACORS ( Local Authorities Coordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards) , the North of England Health Protection Agency (HPA), and North East food Group. 

Locally, we target sampling at approved and high-risk businesses and processes, particularly those for which we act as home or originating authority and which distribute foods outside the county.  Samples may also be taken after a report of suspected food poisoning.

Results of sampling

Food products sampled by officers are examined for the presence of organisms that could give rise to food poisoning.  These organisms include: salmonella, campylobacter, staphylococcus, E coli 0157 and listeria monocytogenes.  Other bacteria in ready to eat foods that are not hazardous but can be indicative of poor practices during handling are also looked for.  Ready-to-eat foods which would be eaten by the consumer without further preparation or cooking have featured prominently in our sampling programme because any contamination of the product will have a direct effect on the person consuming it.  Where problems are identified with a product, follow-up action will be taken.  This will generally be in the form of advice on production methods, practices, controls and staff training.  If it is necessary, products can be withdrawn from sale or formal action taken to enforce food safety law.