Environmental Health Officers (EHO) are responsible for ensuring food businesses comply with food safety law. Whether you own a pub, manage a cafe or sell sandwiches to go, you’ll need to be prepared to pass an inspection.
Here we share what to expect and how to get top marks every time.
EHO inspection: what to expect
First things first… what is an EHO inspection?
Any business that serves food to the public must meet strict food safety laws as set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). These cover everything from food preparation to pest control.
An Environmental Health Officer enforces these criteria, assessing a venue from top to bottom before awarding a food hygiene rating of 0-5.
Getting a 5-star score is critical for attracting and retaining loyal customers. Displaying your number is a legal requirement in Wales and Ireland, and will likely be the case for the rest of the UK very soon. Plus, top marks are an excellent way to reassure passers-by.
Find out more about how FSA ratings are scored in our guide to getting a 5-star food hygiene rating.
When will an EHO visit?
Your EHO inspection can occur at any time during the week - and they often turn up unannounced.
Whatever you do, never deny an EHO entry. This is a criminal offence as officers are legally obliged to inspect your premises.
Depending on your type of business and previous rating, your venue will be given an additional score from A-E. This determines whether you are high or low risk and reveals how often an inspection will occur. This can be as frequent as every 6 months, or some the most compliant, every 3 years.
What do Environmental Health Officers look for?
Environmental Health Officers will assess your venue from three different angles:
Food handling and practices
How food is labelled, prepared and cooked
Staff personal hygiene practices including hand washing and protective wear
How you manage contamination prevention
How you manage contamination prevention
Temperature control (storing, cooking, freezing and displaying food)
Equipment maintenance and cleanliness
General cleaning processes and schedules
The condition of your premises including size, layout and design
Your food safety management system (HACCP)
Risk assessments and staff training
Record keeping and daily checklists
Each of these factors is equally important in ensuring that your premises are safe for the public. However, EHO’s begin their assessment before they walk through the door.
Remember to check the outside of your venue is tidy, that your team displays good personal hygiene and that you have clear records to hand at a moment's notice. It’s also good practice to specifically train your staff in food safety management so that they can answer any questions the Environmental Health Officer may have.
What happens if you don’t meet food safety standards?
If an EHO believes your venue isn’t compliant or is a risk to public safety, they can take serious action. This can include a hygiene improvement notice which clearly states what needs to be done to stay compliant.
In extreme cases, emergency prohibition notices can shut businesses down that seriously breach safety laws.
Even if you aren’t forced to close, a bad hygiene score will drastically tarnish your reputation and be hard to recover from. It’s, therefore, crucial to be compliant with food safety standards at all times and to ensure your team is confident about an unexpected visit.
How to pass an EHO inspection
It’s a good idea to use a food hygiene checklist to ensure you consistently meet food safety laws and remain compliant. This covers everything from food storage to avoiding cross-contamination.
An easy way to do this is with a fully online business tool.
Hopsy is a simple hospitality management platform that makes running your business a dream. Every member of your team can access checklists, schedules and reports for each of your venues - including everything you need to pass your EHO inspection.
Cleaning schedulesoutline specific tasks to ensure nothing gets missed
Perfect record keepingfor accessing your procedures and paperwork at the click of a button
Staff policies, documents and training to ensure your team is up to scratch
In-built HACCP system - everything you need to guarantee a 5-star hygiene rating, coming soon to Hopsy