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Inspection of food businesses

There are over 1,400 food premises in the borough. Approximately 45% of these are restaurants, takeaways and other catering establishments; the rest are food shops, supermarkets, storage premises and food manufacturers.

We inspect all food premises in accordance with national guidelines under current food legislation. The Statutory Food Service Plan sets out how St Helens Borough Council will work over the coming year to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety and quality of food prepared and sold in the borough of St Helens is of the highest standard. Our food service plan for 2024/25 document is at the bottom of this page.

Each premises is assessed for the level of compliance with the law and is scored; it is this score that determines the next date of inspection. Inspection frequency ranges from six months to three years.

The scores for compliance with the required standards for: food hygiene/safety, structure and food safety management practices are added together to determine the Food Hygiene Rating Score (FHRS) awarded to the business. The scores range from zero (urgent improvement necessary) to 5 (very good).

Following an inspection of a food business, the Food Hygiene Rating Score will be published on the government website. Search for a rating.

What can you expect if we inspect your food business?

  • Inspectors can inspect you at any reasonable time. This can include times when you are preparing food and not open to the public and when you are open to the public. This may be during normal working hours, evenings or weekends.
  • They don't have to make an appointment and we will not give advance notice for a routine inspection.
  • They might take samples, photographs and examine documents.
  • They will provide advice on good practice and recommendations.
  • Officers will always clearly distinguish between legal requirements and recommendations.
  • They will leave a record of inspection on site to confirm the findings of the inspection.

For more detailed information on food enforcement, please visit the Food Standards Agency website.

The Food Standards Agency has developed a toolkit for caterers, retailers and childminders who require a documented food safety management system: Safer Food, Better Business (ISF). It is a simple, common-sense approach and assists food businesses to comply with the law.

Copies of the toolkit (Safer Food, Better Business) are free to businesses and can be downloaded directly from the Food Standards Agency website. 

The toolkit SFBB can also be provided in various languages, and cuisines.

New diary sheets can be downloaded directly from the Food Standards Agency website.

Contact us by emailing Environmental Health or phoning 01744 676789.

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Last modified on 05 February 2024