To get the best experience of this website, we recommend you upgrade your browser.

Upgrade your Internet Explorer

Durham County Council

Page location

Inspection of food businesses


We carry out regular, risk-based food hygiene and standards inspections of all food premises to ensure that the public is protected and that legal standards are maintained.

Inspections can be carried out in the following circumstances:

  • at the request of the business
  • upon receipt of a complaint about a business
  • as part of our planned inspection programme
  • as part of an investigation into a food complaint, food alert, or case of food poisoning
  • as part of a survey or special initiative           

Programmed inspections are carried out according to the degree of risk from the food business and are normally carried out without prior notification. This ensures that higher risk premises, such as caterers and food manufacturers are visited more frequently than those in lower risk categories, for example sweet shops.

During an inspection we will check that: 

  • potential food safety risks have been identified by the business
  • there are adequate controls in place to prevent any problems
  • the managers and food handlers are trained to an appropriate level 
  • the condition of the premises and equipment is satisfactory
  • foodstuffs are correctly labelled
  • the content of foodstuffs meets appropriate standards

We will provide advice and guidance to businesses to help ensure good practices are adopted. However, where standards or conditions are found to be unsatisfactory during an inspection, we will take the appropriate action to rectify any problems. Any action taken will be in accordance with the Environment, Health and Consumer Protection (EHCP) enforcement policy .

Further advice on inspections is available on the Food Standards Agency website - food law inspections and your business. We also produce an annual Food Safety Service Plan (PDF, 798kb) in accordance with the national guidelines set out by the Food Standards Agency.  

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme was introduced in County Durham in April 2012. The national scheme developed by the Food Standards Agency provides consumers with information about hygiene standards in food premises.

What you must do

If you are planning to open a food business, you must register your premises as a food business at least 28 days prior to opening.