The Food Safety (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 and Regulations made thereunder, aim to ensure that all food offered for sale to the public is safe to eat and is properly described. It is the responsibility of the Environmental Health Service to enforce this and other related food legislation.
INSPECTION OF FOOD PREMISES
Environmental Health Officers have the power to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours and they will usually come without advance notice. They carry out routine inspections and may also visit as the result of a complaint. How often routine inspections happen depends on the potential risk posed by the type of business and its previous record.
Officers will look at the way the business is operated, identify potential hazards and make sure it complies with food safety legislation. They will discuss any problems with the proprietor and advise on possible solutions.
In carrying out inspections Officers may take samples of food, inspect records, take photographs and bring with them any other person they consider necessary. They can also detain or seize suspect food. They may write to the proprietor informally pointing out any problems which they have found and advise that they should be remedied. In some circumstances however they may serve an Improvement Notice stating the time period by which particular problems must be remedied. In more serious cases of poor hygiene standards they may decide to recommend a prosecution. If the prosecution is successful the Court may impose fines, prohibition on persons, premises or equipment and possibly imprisonment.
If there is an imminent risk to consumers, Officers can serve an Emergency Prohibition Notice which forbids the use of the premises or equipment. Such a Notice must be confirmed by the Court.
Most food businesses must complete a Food Registration Application Form updated September 2008 and return it to their local authority. New businesses should do so at least 28 days before they open to ensure compliance before trading commences.
Prior approval is required for anyone involved in the manufacture of: meat products; meat preparations; milk and dairy products; fish products and egg products.
Any one considering any of the above types of operations should contact the Environmental Health Department for further information.