An important part of the role of the Environmental Health enforcement service is to take samples of food, water and environmental (ie swabs of preparation areas and equipment) from food businesses.
Each year we collect samples from a variety of businesses, including those selling high risk ready-to-eat foods. We also take samples following customer complaints, such as food poisoning allegations.
Samples are tested either by the Public Health England or Public Analyst to discover if there are any harmful bacteria, chemicals or foreign objects. Those tested for bacteria are categorised against the Health Protection Agency 'Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiological Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods Placed on the Market'.
In some cases we may notify the Food Standards Agency.