The NSW Food Authority has a partnership with the 152 local councils across NSW, who conduct regular inspections of retail food businesses in their local area.
Council environmental health officers (EHOs) are authorised officers under the Food Act 2003 and check that good food safety practices are in place such as temperature control, cleanliness, hand washing and labelling. This partnership is known as the Food Regulation Partnership.
What will be assessed during your inspection
The majority of councils in NSW inspect retail food premises using a standard checklist for compliance with the Food Standards Code called the Food Premises Assessment Report (FPAR).
The FPAR features a points system to determine a hygiene and food safety score.
Council officers will assess the following as part of the inspection:
general items: that you appointed a trained Food Safety Supervisor (FSS), have an FSS certificate on the premises, and that food handlers have skills and knowledge to handle food safely
food handling controls: storage, display and transport, processing, the risk of cross-contamination
cleaning and sanitising, hand washing and proximity of facilities
food temperature control
premises design and construction: issues such as water supply, disposal, adequate and safe garbage facilities and lighting
food labelling: accurate and sufficient.
Preparing for your regular inspection
There are a number of things you can do to prepare for your regular council inspection to get the best possible result:
Make sure your premises has an up-to-date notification record at your local council
Make sure your premises has a current, designated Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) and that they have an FSS certificate for the required training units
Look at your last hygiene and food safety inspection report to check that you’ve taken all of the actions needed to meet the legal requirements. If you can’t find your last report, contact your local council and they will be able to give you a copy
Continue making regular, routine checks to ensure hygiene standards are being maintained and staff are following the rules
Safe processes are as important as physical conditions. Staff should be able to answer questions on food safety related to the food handling work they do
Promptly arrange for any repairs and conduct regular maintenance of the premises and equipment
Peform a self check by going through the Food Premises Assessment Report (FPAR) yourself.
Getting a better inspection result
Make sure you have these covered. The 5 most common issues identified by council inspection staff are where food businesses fail to:
1. clean the food premises and equipment: under, behind, inside equipment and appliances; grease traps; floors; storage areas
2. have hand washing facilities that are readily accessible, dedicated to hand washing and have a supply of warm, running potable water, soap and single-use paper towels
3. control pest issues such as cockroaches and mice so there is no evidence of infestation; cover waste containers, protect areas from pests with flyscreens etc
4. keep high risk food at the correct temperatures (hot enough or cold enough) during both display and storage; have a food temperature measuring device (how do you know food is at a safe temperature?)
5. cover food during storage and protect it from contamination.
Scores on Doors
Scores on Doors is the NSW hygiene and food safety scoring program that displays the results of food premises regular inspections. It makes public how well local restaurants, takeaway shops, bakeries, pub bistros and cafes are complying with NSW hygiene and food safety requirements.
If your council participates in the Scores on Doors program they will tally your food safety and hygiene rating to either 3, 4 or 5 stars and you will be able to display your food safety record for your customers.