Preparing for an Environmental Health Home Visit

The thought of having your home inspected by Environmental Health can seem daunting to say the least. It’s useful to remember that the officers are not there to try and catch you out and will support you as much as they can. Having said that, it’s hugely beneficial to be as organised as you can when getting your kitchen ready for an environmental health home visit.

cleaning products arranged on a worksurface ahead of an environmental health home visit
Preparing for an environmental health home visit need not be daunting – our easy to follow checklist will show you how!

Follow our home kitchen health inspection checklist below to get the best results from your home visit.

What Will Happen During an Environmental Health Home Visit?

Pre-empting the criteria of your home visit can boost confidence and leave you feeling more organised. Home businesses such as cake-making, sweet selling, and selling coffee are subject to the same high standards as business premises such as cafes.

So just what can you expect from your Environmental health home visit?

  • The officer will check you are registered as a food business as this is a legal requirement when you have a food business at home.
  • Be prepared to be asked about food safety and HACCP. Any documents you have relating to this should be accessible on inspection day.
  • Have your Food Hygiene certificate ready and on display so that the inspector knows you have knowledge in this area.
  • The EHO will be keen to closely inspect your kitchen space and make sure it is safe and clean and fit for purpose.
  • You can expect questions about personal hygiene and they will ask to see your handwashing and toilet facilities.
  • All your business equipment is likely to be checked for any safety issues such as loose wires or wires that are causing potential trip hazards. Consider performing a risk assessment to identify these.
  • Bins and waste disposal is a big aspect of food safety and pest control so you will be quizzed about your routine. If your household has pets you will need to demonstrate how this doesn’t impact your work space’s hygiene levels.
  • Expect to be asked how and where you store your equipment and food supplies.
  • Should you use a car or van as part of your business then this will also be checked over.
  • An inspector will concentrate on three main factors: Food Hygiene and Safety Procedures, Structural Requirements and Confidence in Management.

How Can I Prepare my Home Kitchen for Inspection?

Your kitchen should be cleaned to a high standard daily when you are running a food business of any sort.

However, taking some extra steps and making sure you have covered all bases will leave you feeling organised and as a result, also confident.

  • It sounds an obvious thing to be saying but make sure you have cleaned every inch of your working environment. This includes surfaces, equipment, cupboards, fridge, freezer, floors, and bins.
  • It won’t do harm to have a good old spring clean throughout the sections of your home the inspector will see. First impressions go a long way to forming opinions, so make yours count.
  • Make sure everything is working as it should and is safe to use. Equipment not working properly can be seen as a safety issue so it is best to have these replaced.
  • Have dangerous equipment such as knives somewhere safe where only you can get to them.
  • Walk around the kitchen and imagine you are the inspector and sort any issues they may pick up on. Even better, get someone with fresh eyes to do this for you.
  • Give your bathroom a good clean and make sure the handwashing facilities are also spotless. If you also wash hands in the kitchen space, ensure you can talk about the methods you use to avoid cross contamination.
  • Make sure you have a working food probe thermometer as you will be likely asked to show them this.
  • Have your fire blanket or extinguisher on display and easily accessible. Fire safety in your workplace is very important.
  • Ensure your first aid kit is also somewhere easy to reach and nothing has expired in it.
  • Check your fridge and freezer have been stacked with high risk items at the bottom and well away from fresh produce.
  • Cleaning equipment will be inspected so make sure the cleaning products you use are safe and appropriate.

Home Kitchen Health Inspection Checklist

To be fully ready for your home visit, it is a good idea to understand just what items will be on the Inspector’s checklist. You don’t want to be caught out on the day by any unexpected questions.

  • Registered as a food business with local authority?
  • All documents appropriately filled in and signed as required, eg HACCP?
  • Awareness of Safer Food, Better Business document?
  • Are the kitchen workspaces fit for purpose and clean?
  • Are there hygienic hand washing and toilet facilities?
  • Is there a separate sink for preparing food and washing hands?
  • Is there a fire extinguisher or blanket and first aid kit on the premises?
  • Does the food business own and use a food probe?
  • Are work areas clear from clutter and any potential risks?
  • Is there adequate ventilation in the kitchen?
  • Is food stored safely in the fridge and freezer to avoid cross contamination?
  • How are bins emptied and cleaned?
  • Does the food business have high standards of personal hygiene?
  • Are gloves, aprons, or headwear worn during any food preparation?
  • Does the business understand the 14 Allergens and can provide this information if required?

How Will I Know When My EHO Visit Is Due?

The EHO strive to inspect all food businesses within their first 28 days of opening.

This may vary from area to area though. You will not be given prior notification of your inspection so you very much need to be prepared from the offset. Should you not be open on a full time basis, then you can inform your EHO of your working hours.

What Happens Once the Inspection is Done?

Apart from breathing a sigh of relief, what else happens once your home inspection is done?

The inspector will leave and put together a report based on their findings. The checklist above forms the basis for their grading system and the lower your score, the better your rating will be. Extra points will be added to your report if you failed to comply with any of the above.

Once your report has been formed, you will receive notification of your food hygiene rating. All ratings are between 0 (urgent improvement is required) and 5 (highest of standards). Anything from 3 or below is considered a concern and changes need to be made. Your rating can be obtained from the public on the FSA website.

You do not have to currently display your food hygiene rating unless you live in Wales or Northern Ireland. Should you wish to appeal your rating, this needs to be done in writing to the FSA so that another inspection can be arranged. The important thing to remember is that they are there to support you and to get your business to the highest possible standard. Even if you do not cook food and only deal with packaged goods, your premises must still be compliant with all aspects of food hygiene & food safety.

Further Reading

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