How EHOs can help your business
For owners of catering businesses, the thought of a visit by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) can be daunting. But the truth is EHOs would much rather engage with you about food safety law than have to enforce it.
What is the role of an EHO?
EHOs are employed by local authorities to protect the public from environmental health risks. While they are primarily law enforcers, they also act as advisors. EHOs are always happy to give guidance to individuals, community groups and businesses.
What legal powers do EHOs have?
EHOs have a number of powers they can use to help them enforce the law.
- Power of entry – this means when they make an inspection visit, you cannot legally refuse entry.
- Power to take unfit food - EHOs can take food from your premises without your permission if they feel it is unsafe.
- Power to serve legal notices - If you are not meeting legal standards, the EHO may issue you with a Hygiene Improvement Notice or Emergency Hygiene Prohibition Notice.
- Power to prosecute – the environmental health service can start prosecution proceedings in a court of law.
Did you know...
If a GP sees a patient with food poisoning, they are required by law to report it to the local environmental food department?
Should I be worried about an EHO visit?
If you’re working within the parameters of the law, for example by ensuring you are HACCP compliant, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Vitally though, you needn’t wait for a routine inspection to have a conversation with your EHO. If you’re not sure about certain aspects of the law and need guidance, EHOs are there to help.
They have extensive knowledge of compliance and regulation, as well as the skills needed to communicate with you and your staff about the value of health and safety. It’s important to remember that EHOs want the same thing as you do - happy customers eating safe food in a thriving business.
Questions to ask your EHO
Conversations with your EHO are an opportunity to increase your legislative knowledge and get advice on how to improve and maintain hygiene standards within your business.
Make sure you get the most out of your meetings, either during or between inspections, by thinking about some questions you can ask.
They might include:
- Have there been any recent changes in legislation I should know about?
- Could we be labelling our food more clearly?
- Are we using the most effective and compliant recording methods?
- Am I using appropriate HACCP reporting for the size of my business?
Did you know...
EHOs will look at a range of aspects relating to your food premises, the food you prepare, how you handle food, and your food safety management system and documentation.
The EHO White Paper
Our white paper outlines what these inspectors are looking for and provides guidance on good practice in food handling and storage.
Your responsibility, whether you run a hot dog stand or a three-star restaurant, is to operate within the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006. These laws are common throughout the European Community.
Anyone who handles or sells food, or who cleans equipment used for food, is governed by the regulations. If you are a manufacturer of animal-based products (e.g. dairies and fish markets) there are additional specific rules you must follow. Read our white paper to find out more.
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