Food law enforcement plan
Inspections are the principal way of securing appropriate standards in food premises and represent what many stakeholders expect to happen. Furthermore, research has shown that small to medium sized businesses in particular favour direct contact in their premises, and specific advice and information that they do not have to interpret.
The Authority strives to ensure that all food premises are inspected with a frequency that has regard to the risk associated with those premises. Food premises inspections in 2022-23 will be assessed and prioritised in line with the timescales identified in the FSA LA Recovery Plan.
Where it is possible and appropriate to do so, food hygiene and standards inspections are carried out simultaneously, by the same officer, thereby reducing the number of visits necessary to each business.
3.2.1 Food premises by food hygiene risk category
Food premises are classified in accordance with the rating scheme set out in the Food Safety Act Code of Practice. The scheme is used to determine the minimum frequency of inspection and is in turn the basis of the Authority’s food hygiene inspection programme.
The percentage of premises in each Risk Category as at 1st April 2022 and the minimum inspection frequencies are as indicated:
No. of premises (as of 1st April 2022)
Percentage of premises as at 1st April 2022
Frequency of inspection
|A||2||0.01||Every 6 months|
|C||643||22.2%||Every 18 months|
|D||570||17.8%||Every 2 years|
See the FSA Recovery Plan in 2.6(ii) above for the different milestones in the FSA Recovery Plan for 2022-23, and section 3.2.4 below where numerical values are added to the different categories of work.
Food Hygiene Risk Category as at 1 April each Year
There has been a steady and very significant reduction in the number of premises in the higher risk categories (i.e. Risk Categories A-C) over the last 6 years, with a corresponding increase in the number of premises in the lower risk categories (i.e. Risk Categories D and E). The number of Category A premises has fluctuated between 3 and 9 since 2014, with 6 being the average number of premises since then. As of 1 April 2022 there are 2 premises in Risk Category A.
It is difficult to say whether this trend will continue after the Covid-19 delays in Food enforcement activities. Initial colloquial evidence from officers would suggest that due to the length of time since premises were last inspected, there has been a corresponding decrease in compliance, which would lead to more premises being assessed into a higher Risk Category. This would in turn lead to an increase in the number of inspections required. This issue will be assessed during the year.
The number of premises and criteria for risk rating premises have remained largely constant throughout this period, and the trend shows an improvement in food safety compliance throughout the County, despite the challenges presented by a difficult economic climate.
A number of factors will have contributed to these improvements, including:
- the effective targeting of the Authority’s food law enforcement resources and its overall approach to enforcement (enforcement mix);
- the additional support, in particular Food Safety Management System coaching visits, offered to premises, that were not broadly compliant, and with low confidence in management (supported by additional Food Standards Agency funding); and,
- the compliance incentive created by the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, launched at the end of 2010. In February 2018 the Food Standards Agency published its 3 year review of the implementation and operation of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme which provided evidence as to the Scheme’s high success in achieving improved and sustained food safety compliance by food businesses, as well as providing greater transparency for consumers in Wales.
The Authority is committed to continue to pursue these same strategies, with the aim of securing further improvements over the year ahead.
The chart below shows the number of inspections due each year since 2010-11
Number of planned inspections required per year
As can be seen from the table, due to Covid-19 proactive inspections were largely suspended in 2020-21, due to premises not being allowed to trade, and routine work, except to high risk reactive premises and applications for approval, therefore no number has been allocated for this year. The figure for 2021-22 reflects the start of the recovery plan during the year, with the Plan concentrating inspections to approved premises applications, Category A for Hygiene and high risk Unrated premises, as well as high risk reactive work.
The figure for 2022-23 however includes the numbers of inspections to meet all of the different milestones in the Recovery Plan during 2022-23. It can be seen that there are two columns for 2022-23, one of which includes inspection of all 482 unrated premises outstanding from 2021-22, and the other (in purple) which shows a modified number of inspections required if the low risk overdue unrated premises are not included. See para 3.2.4 below for a more detailed breakdown of the work due, to fully meet the FSA LA Recovery Plan.
When including all overdue unrated inspections, the number of inspections expected for this year is much higher than any other year in the last 11 years, and any year prior to that. Consequently due to this significantly increased requirement, the fact that the Food Team establishment is not staffed sufficiently to meet such a high target, and the fact that there are issues relating to staff capacity, as further detailed in Para 4.2 below, there is not sufficient capacity to meet all expected work in the Plan, by the end of March 2023.
These two columns have been produced because the FSA has indicated (though not confirmed) that local authorities may be able to leave the lower risk unrated premises out of the Recovery Plan for 2022-23.
The number of inspections required per year in the above table relates only to the programmed inspections required and does not include additional inspections that may be needed in response to complaints (reactive), unplanned inspections such as new registrations that will occur during the year, and Requests for Re-rating under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme that will be received, to ensure consistency in the required numbers of inspections through the years.
3.2.2 Food premises by food standards risk category
As for food hygiene, the Authority has adopted the risk-rating scheme set out in the Food Safety Act Code of Practice. The scheme is used to determine the minimum frequency of inspection and is in turn the basis of the Authority’s food standards inspection programme. However this year the FSA LA Recovery Plan will dictate the priority to be given to Food Standards Inspections. Only Category A Food Standards inspections are required to receive a proactive inspection in 2022-23. The percentage of premises in each Risk Category as at 1st April 2022 are as indicated:
Percentage (as at 1st April 2022)
Frequency of Inspection
|B||392||Every 2 years|
3.2.3 Achievement against inspection programme based on expectations in the FSA Recovery Plan for food hygiene and food standards for 2021-22
Under the FSA Recovery Plan expectations for 2021-22 which primarily included the need to inspect high priority unrated premises and Category A Food Hygiene premises.
Inspections were undertaken to the 5 identified Category A premises, 18 premises were inspected following requests for rescoring under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, and 8 reactive inspections were undertaken.
In addition 107 initial inspections of unrated premises were undertaken, plus a further 5 programmed food hygiene inspections.
Shortfalls in the proposed numbers of inspections for 2022-23 can be accounted for through a number of means, including the ongoing secondments to the TTP service, significant staff illnesses/absence due to Covid-19, and other reasons including family bereavements, the vacancies arising during the year. Whilst a new Environmental Health Officer and an Area Food Safety Officer were appointed, their induction and competency assessments affected the number of inspections that could be achieved.
In addition on inspections, officers have reported that inspections are taking longer for a number of reasons, including the fact that as routine inspections have not been possible in the Covid-19 period, which has resulted in reduced compliance. This has led to increased time required for inspections, report writing and enforcement revisits, which all reduce the inspection capacity.
In addition the FSA Recovery Plan was released before the Delta and Omicron variants of Covid-19 arose, and was not subsequently amended, so no account was made of the impact that those subsequent peaks would have had on officers’ abilities to carry on with routine work, and the need for the ongoing redeployment of officers away from the Food team.
The routine work of issuing Alternative Enforcement Strategy Questionnaires to the very lowest risk (from BOTH Hygiene AND Standards point of view) did not take place in 2020-21 or 2021-22.
3.2.4 Inspection programme for food hygiene and food standards for 2022-23, to implement the FSA LA Recovery Plan, including the milestones for different categories of premises plus an assessment of the capacity to meet the demand
The table and data below quantify the number of inspections that are required in the year 2022-23 and are broken down by the Inspection reason and by the different milestones as required by the FSA Recovery Plan.
By 30th June 2022
- Category B - Food Hygiene Inspections: 51
- Category B - Food Hygiene Inspections: 16
By 30th September 2022
- Non Broadly Compliant Category C Food hygiene inspections: 25
By 31st December 2022
- Non Broadly Compliant Category D Food hygiene inspections: 2
By 31st March 2023
- Broadly Compliant Category C Food hygiene inspections: 574
Total inspections to rated premises due: 668
In addition there are 96 overdue High risk Unrated premises, meaning that there will be 764 Planned inspections due in the year. This figure will be added to the calculated Unplanned Inspections identified below to calculate the full inspection Requirement for 2022-23.
It is also important to record the fact that there are 386 unrated premises which have been assessed as low risk. As per FSA advice these premises do not need to be included in the Inspection requirement for 2022-23, but they must be accounted for. The new FSA Delivery Model MAY enable such businesses to be dealt with in a way other than inspection.
Summary of Inspection Requirement for 2022-23 against Team Capacity
Inspection demand for 2022-23:
Inspections required (386 low risk unplanned excluded)
- Planned Inspections, 668 from Recovery Plan Plus High risk Unrated (96) from pre 2022-23, PLUS: 764
- Unplanned inspections, Requests for rescore, reactive insps, new registrations received: 327
- Inspections required in 2022-23: 1091
Food Team Capacity:
Capacity for 2022-23
- From calculations of capacity based on number of officers available, PLUS: 535
- From the two contractor companies M&T (120), and A2Z (90): 210
- Capacity (including contractors): 745
Shortfall for the year:
Shortfall in inspections 2022-23
- The inspection demand for the year MINUS: 1091
- Current Capacity available (staff and contractors): 745
- Shortfall: 346
Loss of Capacity as a result of Vacancies/Secondments/Maternity:
As a result of vacant posts for the year, ie
- 1 x maternity*: 97.2
- 1 x secondment of 0.9 fte to regional TTP service to 31/03/2023*: 87.45
- 1 x secondment of 0.8 fte to TTP to 18/07/2022*: 51.84
- 1 x FTE Vacancy due to temporary promotion*: 97.2
- 1 x FTE Officer seconded to Private sector Housing*: 97.2
- Total loss in capacity due to Vacant posts: 431
* N.b. capacity of FTE officer reduced by 35%, for 2022-23 due to anticipated additional length of time to be taken due to lower compliance, resulting in more enforcement revisits and more formal action. Also due to staff vacancies, each officer will need to spend more time on duty, which affects inspection capacity. In addition new food standards law of Pre-packed for direct sale foods will increase the length of inspections. A significant portion of this reduction is anticipated to be temporary as a result of the recovery from COVID.
Action Proposed, to Tackle Shortfall in Capacity for 2022-23
In order to increase capacity in the Team, it is anticipated to advertise in August 2022, for a further 1 permanent full time officer (to offset a retirement which arose during Quarter 1 of 2022-23) and 2, temporary full time officers, on a 12 month temporary contract.
In the longer term, the current ongoing Public Protection Review will ascertain the future ongoing capacity necessary for the Food team, to meet future service demands.
The individual capacities of officers in the Food Team will be kept under review to account for specific impacts on their abilities to achieve inspections
3.2.5 Unplanned and reactive inspections
In addition to carrying out routine programmed inspections, unplanned inspections are carried out where:
- new premises come to the attention of the Authority;
- there is a change of ownership of existing premises; and
- some outdoor temporary events, etc. take place with on-site catering.
The registration and inspection of new premises is covered in more detail under 3.1 above.
The following unplanned inspections were made over the last 10 years:
Number of new business inspections undertaken
- 2012-13: 157
- 2013-14: 203
- 2014-15: 200
- 2015-16: 184
- 2016-17: 204
- 2017-18: 217
- 2018-19: 258
- 2019-20: 211
- 2020-21: 59
- 2021-22: 107
A planned estimate of 230 new business inspections has been made for 2022-23. This will be in addition to 482 unrated premises that have been carried forward from 2020-21 and 2021-22. The backlog of unrated premises has been risk assessed and 96 of these have been identified as high priority. The primary attention for new businesses will be to inspect the highest priority premises first.
Reactive inspections are also made in response to service requests (e.g. a complaint or food poisoning incident), where a full inspection is deemed necessary following investigation.
The following reactive inspections were carried out over the last 10 years
Number of reactive inspections undertaken
- 2012-13: 27
- 2013-14: 31
- 2014-15: 32
- 2015-16: 25
- 2016-17: 34
- 2017-18: 24
- 2018-19: 27
- 2019-20: 25
- 2020-21: 0
- 2021-22: 8
An estimate of 32 reactive inspections has been made for 2019-20, based on projections from the above data, and a potential increase due to issues arising during the Covid-19 period.
3.2.6 Timing of inspection reports
The Authority generally aims to issue inspection reports within 15 working days of inspection and to achieve this standard in 85% of all cases. Since October 2010 the Food Safety and Standards Team have worked to a target of 10 working days in accordance with the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.
The following table shows the level of performance achieved by the Team against the ‘15 day service standard’ during 2021-22 compared to the previous 4 years, and against the 10 day target.
Level of performance
|Number of inspection reports issued||1023||1056||1056||79||322|
|Percentage issued within 15 working day corporate service standard||94.2%||95%||89%||5%||62%|
|Percentage issued within 10 working day target established by FHRS||83.2%||81%||85%||3%||49%|
This Report shows the dramatic reduction in inspection work undertaken during the 2 years of the Covid-19 pandemic, for the reasons explained elsewhere, and the dramatic reduction in achievement against the indicators. This change will be directly as a result of the pandemic, and achievement will be expected to improve during the Recovery period.
3.2.7 Enforcement Revisits
(These revisits are considered separately from requests for ‘revisits for rescoring’ under the FHRS that are covered at 2.6.2 above).
As a general rule ‘enforcement revisits’ will only be carried out to premises that are not ‘broadly compliant’ with food hygiene requirements (see 2.6.1 above), or where compliance and/or confidence are low for food standards (scoring the lowest available score for Current Compliance (40) and /or Confidence in Management (30) for food standards). This will help to ensure that the Council’s resources and efforts to secure improvements in food premises are targeted at the ‘worst offenders’.
Where contraventions of legislation are identified, timescales for compliance will be specified. Where continued non-compliance is evident further enforcement action will be taken. Where a revisit is not deemed necessary, businesses may be asked to confirm compliance in writing, or compliance will be checked at the next routine visit.
During 2021-22, 21 enforcement revisits were made.
The following chart compares the number of enforcement revisits carried out over each of the last 13 years:
Number of enforcement revisits
There has been a decline in the number of enforcement revisits required over the last 6 years. This is consistent with a reduction in the number of inspections carried out; and, in earlier years, the improved level of food hygiene compliance as illustrated by the changing food hygiene risk profile, increase in ‘broadly compliant’ food premises and improved food hygiene ratings. As the number of inspections increase in the recovery period, and with anticipated reductions in compliance with food law, it can be expected that the number of enforcement revisits required in 2022-23 will increase.