In conjunction with inspecting premises for food safety, Environmental Health Officers carry out food standards inspections. Food standards includes the quality, composition, labelling, presentation and advertising of food and also materials or articles in contact with food.
Environmental Health Officers, through inspection, establish whether food standards are being met and that all necessary steps are taken to prevent contravention of the legislation. It is particularly important to ensure that food standards are being met at the place of manufacture.
Quality is associated with that which might be generally expected by the purchaser of a food product. It is advisable that manufacturers develop a quality assurance system to allow consistency in the quality of their product.
Composition looks at the ingredients of any food product and recipes should be devised to ensure that the subsequent product fulfils all statutory requirements regarding composition, for example
- The maximum amounts of permissible preservatives in sausage meat or jam
- The minimum fat content in milk
- Minimum meat content of meat products
Under the Food Labelling Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 it is an offence to sell goods which are not properly labelled. Generally, pre-packed products whether sold to retailers or caterers, must be labelled with the following information:
- The name of the food
- A list of ingredients in descending weight order; (in some cases the quantity of
certain ingredients or categories of ingredients of a food should be indicated)
- An indication of minimum durability
- Special storage conditions, e.g. store under refrigeration
- The name and address of the manufacturer
- Origin of the food
- Instructions for use e.g. cooking instructions
When the product is advertised the information conveyed to the purchaser must not be misleading.
Environmental Health Officers carry out routine sampling of food products supplied for retail sale as a checking system to ensure that good standards are being maintained.