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We are responsible for the safety of food, which is imported, produced, sold and consumed within Hackney.
We ensure that food meets appropriate legal and quality standards, is correctly labelled and described and is free from contaminants. We advise and educate food businesses and take enforcement action where appropriate.
These are some of the things we do:
- undertake programmed food hygiene and food standards inspections
- complete risk assessments of all food premises to give them a risk rating – this determines how often we inspect them
- enforcement action when hygiene and standards are not met/maintained
- inspect and monitor approved premises
- food sampling to ensure the safety and composition of food
- investigate complaints about food and food businesses
- investigate cases of food-borne illness
- inspection of food and food packaging
- provide advice to food business
- provide training for food handlers
Advice and guidance on food safety
All food businesses that prepare, store, sell or distribute food in Hackney must be registered and it is a legal requirement for you to register. The registration requirement applies to new businesses and if you are taking over an existing food business. There is no charge for registration and it does not need to be renewed.
You can begin trading once you have registered and you do not need to wait for an inspection before you start to operate. Some food businesses may need to be licensed before trading for example if you intend to sell alcohol or sell hot food after 11pm. See our licensing pages for more information.
If you produce and/or pack certain products of animal origin (meat, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs) and supply these to other food businesses, you may require approval from the Council before you can start trading.
In addition to general food law, these activities need to meet more specific requirements as they are generally higher risk in terms of food safety.
Find out whether you need to apply for approval.
The food hygiene rating scheme (FHRS) helps people choose where to eat out or to shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in food businesses.
Businesses are given a window sticker for display and ratings are published online.
A new FHRS rating will be given each time a business is inspected. The rating reflects the standards of food safety and hygiene found at the time of the inspection. It does not take into account factors such as food quality or customer service.
Find out more about the FHRS and the Council’s role in carrying out inspections to determine the rating for a food business
An initial food safety inspection of your premises is carried out once you open for business.
After this we conduct further regular inspections of your business to ensure that standards are maintained.
Inspection intervals range from every 6 months to every 3 years depending on the risk. Restaurants are higher risk than shops selling packaged food.
Businesses with previous poor inspections are more likely to be identified as high risk.
During an inspection, a risk assessment will be completed which will determine how often you are inspected.
When carrying out the risk assessment we consider:
- potential hazards
- compliance with legislation
- confidence in management and control systems
- the significance of risks
Potential hazards are the:
- types of food involved and the method of handling them,
- the methods of processing and handling food
- type and number of consumers at risk
After the inspection, you will be provided with a written report that will identify legal requirements and recommendations.
Businesses that sell food directly to the public will also be provided with their rating under the food hygiene rating scheme.
It’s against the law to supply food which is unsafe or harmful to human health and food businesses must ensure that they comply with relevant food law. We’ll also investigate if a customer complains to us about a business.
In some circumstances, and when we think it’s necessary, we can take enforcement action to protect the public. The action that is taken will depend on the seriousness of the issue and can include the following:
- a written warning in the form of a letter or inspection report: This will identify what the problem is, the action that is required to be taken and the timescale. Officers will re-visit premises to check that the required action has been taken
- serving a notice: This is a legal document requiring action to be carried out within a set time. Failure to comply with a notice is a criminal offence and can result in prosecution
- prohibition: Officers can serve a notice requiring a business to cease trading or stop an activity or process where there is a serious risk of harm to customers such as a pest infestation or inadequate heat treatment
- prosecution: Businesses can be taken to Court for serious breaches of food law resulting in a fine or imprisonment upon conviction
For information on how we carry out enforcement if required please see our enforcement policy.
Anyone who works with food is responsible for protecting the health of their customers and ensuring that the food they serve or sell is safe to eat.
Increasing numbers of people suffer allergic reactions (which can be life threatening) from eating foods containing allergens. The numbers of customers affected can be greatly reduced if staff are aware of the risks involved and can provide accurate information to customers about allergens that are present in food.
The Council delivers one day training courses to help you to ensure that your staff have the required knowledge to meet your legal obligations as well as giving your staff a nationally recognised qualification.
The courses lead to a Level 2 awards in either Food Safety and Hygiene or Identifying and Controlling Food Allergy Risks. The awards are issued by the Royal Society of Public Health.
If you believe that a restaurant, shop, or other business is supplying food which is unsafe or harmful to human health or is not following food hygiene standards, you should contact us so we can investigate it:
- 020 8356 4911
We’ll get back to you and let you know what you should do next.
We’ll only investigate complaints where there is a public health risk or fair trading issue.
We’ll not investigate complaints about food quality or foreign body contamination where there is no health risk such as food sold beyond the best before date. In such cases, you are advised to contact the retailer or manufacturer to resolve the issue.
We can investigate:
- cases of food poisoning or contaminated food
- allergic reactions to food or inadequate allergen information
- food containing foreign bodies that could cause harm such as metal, glass
- mouldy food
- food sold beyond the use by date
- poor hygiene standards such as pest activity, poor cleaning, staff hygiene
- false descriptions and inappropriate labelling
If you have a sample of the food, you should bring it to us once you have contacted us. In the meantime:
- handle it with care and store it well away from other food
- keep it in the fridge or freezer, especially if you think that it has made you ill or it has gone off
- do not disturb any mould or other objects on the food
- keep any packaging and receipts
Please note we can’t deal with food bought outside of Hackney and in such cases, you should contact the local authority where the food was purchased. We do not deal with any claims for compensation or refunds.
If you suspect that you have food poisoning you should contact your GP as soon as possible.
You may be required to provide a stool specimen so that it can be tested to determine the cause of your illness.
You may be asked to complete a questionnaire to help us to identify the cause of your illness and to prevent it spreading.
This will include information such as your symptoms, recent food history, travel and household contacts.
Please note that food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting may be caused by infections that are commonly spread from person to person rather than being food-borne such as norovirus.
It’s rare for symptoms to occur immediately after eating contaminated food and symptoms usually occur between 12 hours and 5 days after eating contaminated food.
Your premises may be closed if you do not take the necessary action to control pests.
Premises need to be made rodent and insect proof and regularly inspected for evidence of infestation by rats, mice, cockroaches, other insects or birds.
To enable you to meet your obligations we offer a cost-effective, efficient pest control service to businesses in the borough to eliminate pests and provide advice on pest proofing.
Alternatively, we recommend that you use a reputable pest control contractor registered with a recognised trade body such as the British Pest Control Association or the National Pest Technicians Association .
Independent restaurants, takeaways, sandwich bars, cafés and other caterers in London are being encouraged to sign up to the Healthier Catering Commitment, a voluntary scheme which allows food businesses to apply for an award if they can demonstrate a commitment to offering healthier options by reducing salt, fats and sugars in the food and drink they sell.
The scheme is run by the Council and is backed by both the Mayor of London and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).
Only food businesses who achieve the higher Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score of 3, 4 and 5 are eligible to participate.
For more information on the HCC scheme, please contact Fabiola Kouadio on 020 8356 5965 or email@example.com.
Primary Authority is a national scheme operated by local authorities in conjunction with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
It’s intended to improve the consistency of business regulation in areas such as environmental health, trading standards and fire safety and to provide businesses with guidance and support to ensure that they are meeting relevant legal requirements.
A business or trade association can form a legal partnership with a single local authority (the Primary Authority) that will assess and provide advice on compliance with relevant legal requirements.
In addition, the Primary Authority can issue assured advice to the business that other regulators must consider. Any business, charity or other organisation that satisfies the criteria can join the scheme.
If you would like further information on developing a partnership with us please contact us on 020 8356 4911 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know of any food fraud being committed by businesses or operatives in Hackney? Don’t ignore it, report it. Food frauds don’t just rip you off financially, they can also harm your health and create an unfair business advantage.
What is food fraud?
Food fraud occurs when illegal, low quality and misdescribed food is deceptively sold to customers as legal, premium or accurately described food.