What is an EHO inspection?

An Environmental Health Officer (EHO) inspection is a critical process that ensures businesses, particularly those in the food industry, comply with health and safety regulations. EHOs are trained professionals employed by local authorities to enforce food safety laws, protect public health, and make sure that businesses operate safely and hygienically. During an inspection, EHOs assess various aspects of your business to make sure you’re complying with established standards.

The main purpose of an EHO inspection is to safeguard public health by making sure that food businesses maintain high standards of hygiene and safety. These inspections help prevent foodborne illnesses, protect consumers, and maintain the reputation of the food industry as a whole. By identifying and addressing potential risks, EHOs play a vital role in keeping up public confidence in food safety.

When can EHO inspectors visit?

EHO inspections can be either scheduled or unannounced. How often they visit depends on a few things, including the type of business, its history of compliance, and the level of risk associated with its operations. High-risk establishments, such as those handling raw meat or operating at large scales, can typically expect more frequent inspections.

Do EHO inspections have to give notice?

While EHOs can carry out unannounced inspections, they might provide notice in certain circumstances, such as follow-up visits or when specific documentation is required. But you should always be prepared for an inspection, as unannounced visits are a common practice to ensure genuine compliance.

What do EHO inspectors look for?

During your inspection, the EHO will look at different parts of your business to make sure you’re keeping up to standards. Key areas include:

Food hygiene & safety
The EHO will examine food storage, preparation, and cooking processes to ensure they meet hygiene standards. This includes checking temperatures, cleanliness, and the condition of equipment.

Structural conditions
Inspectors will evaluate the physical condition of your premises, including the cleanliness of walls, floors, ceilings, and fixtures. They’ll also check for proper ventilation and lighting.

Pest control
You’ve got to have effective pest control measures to prevent contamination, so your EHO will look for signs of pests and assess how well your control systems are preventing pest problems.

Documentation and records
Maintaining accurate records is crucial for demonstrating compliance. EHOs will review documentation related to food safety management systems, staff training, and temperature monitoring.

Waste management
Disposing of waste properly is an important part of preventing contamination. Inspectors will assess your waste management practices, including the storage and disposal of food waste and other waste.

What authority do EHO inspectors have?

EHOs have quite a lot of authority to enforce compliance – including…

Spot fines and notices – EHOs can issue fines or improvement notices for small infractions. These notices outline the specific issues and a timeframe for correcting them.
Prohibition orders – if a business is an imminent risk to public health or has a case of severe non-compliance, EHOs can issue prohibition orders that temporarily or permanently close a business until the issues are resolved.
Prosecution – for serious breaches of food safety regulations, EHOs can initiate legal proceedings, and prosecution can result in substantial fines or imprisonment.

What happens if you fail an EHO inspection?

Failing an EHO inspection can have serious consequences for your business. Potential outcomes include:

Improvement notices – you might have to make corrective actions quickly if any minor issues are identified.
Follow-up inspections – EHOs might carry out follow-up inspections to make sure required improvements have been made. If you haven’t made the improvements you might be under risk of further enforcement action.
Closure orders – if the EHO finds major issues, you could be told to close until you’ve resolved the issues.
Legal action – as we’ve said, EHOs are able to prosecute which can lead to legal action, resulting in fines, imprisonment or both – and these proceedings could cause serious damage to your business’s reputation and credibility.

What if you disagree with the results of your EHO inspection?

If you think your EHO result is unfair or inaccurate, you have the right to appeal the decision. This involves several steps:

1. Review the inspection report to understand the specific issues identified and the evidence used to support the findings.
2. Gather evidence that supports your case, such as documentation, photographs, or witness statements – and this will be crucial in presenting your appeal.
3. Submit a formal appeal to the relevant authority, outlining your reasons for contesting the inspection results and providing supporting evidence.
4. An independent review will be conducted by a senior officer or external body, who will assess the validity of your claims and determine whether the original decision should stand or get overturned.

Possible appeal outcomes
The outcome of your appeal can vary. If successful, the original decision may be amended or revoked. If unsuccessful, the enforcement actions will remain in place, and you may need to take further corrective measures.

How Food Alert can help you prepare for an EHO inspection

Preparing for an EHO inspection can be a daunting task, but Food Alert is here to help. Our comprehensive services and resources are designed to support businesses in achieving and maintaining compliance with health and safety regulations.

Food Safety Management Systems
We offer tailored food safety management systems that help you implement best practices and ensure ongoing compliance. Our systems are designed to meet the specific needs of your business and are regularly updated to reflect changes in regulations.

Staff training and development
Properly trained staff are essential for maintaining high standards of hygiene and safety. Food Alert provides a range of training programs and resources to equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to excel.

Ongoing support
Our team of experts is always available to provide ongoing support and guidance. Whether you need assistance with documentation, pest control, or waste management, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of compliance.

Want to benefit from our expertise? Call us on 020 7244 1900 or contact us to get the ball rolling.




Food Safety, General, Health & Safety