Food safety legal action and enforcement

If you supply food to the public or other businesses you can find out about food standards legal requirements and other trading standards issues on the Business Companion website. The site provides impartial free information, is maintained by the Trading Standards Institute and backed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

We inspect and monitor food businesses regularly, normally without giving notice, to make sure they are complying with food standards regulations.

In an inspection we may check any of the following -

  • additives - for example colours and whether they are legal and above the legal limit
  • food claims - for example claims of low fat, low salt, low calorie and vegetarian
  • contaminants - for example are chemicals and residues present which shouldn’t be
  • descriptions - for example if the ham sold is really ham, or whether cheese used is a cheese substitute
  • composition - for example checking sausages meet minimum meat and maximum fat levels
  • food allergies - checking allergens are correctly labelled

During an inspection of a food business there are a number of enforcement actions that we may take where poor conditions have persisted, or where there is a risk to public health.

Visit the Food Standards Agency Website

Seizure and detention of food

We can inspect, detain or seize food we suspect might not comply with food safety requirements. We can take action on a whole batch, lot, consignment or any part of the food.

Food is usually detained if we suspect it is contaminated or likely to cause food poisoning or any communicable disease. When it has been detained, we might do any of the following -

  • investigate or test the food
  • withdraw the detention - release the food for its intended purpose
  • seize the food

In some cases we might find it appropriate to seize the food immediately.

Condemnation of food

We can take a sample of any detained or seized food and present it in front of a Justice of the Peace to decide whether or not the food is unfit. The Justice of the Peace then takes note of the information we give them and gives an order for the food to be condemned or released and withdrawn from detention. If the food is condemned we will destroy or dispose of it. The cost of destruction will go to the owner.

Voluntary surrender of food

Food owners can surrender food to us voluntarily. Owners can decide to do this, or we may suggest it if the food owner agrees it is not suitable for people to eat.

There is a charge for voluntary surrender of food. For more information about this please contact us.

Food sampling

Food samples are taken for microbiological examination. The samples are examined to find out whether or not they are acceptable for people to eat. We will always re-sample unsatisfactory food and the place it came from. If the food is still not good enough or where initial results suggest a serious risk of illness, an environmental health officer will visit the premises. We will then investigate where the contamination came from and advise the business of any changes they must make when handling food. We will take more samples to make sure the problem has been fixed.

You can contact us for further information on food safety, re-visits and appeals via -

Food Safety Section
Environmental Health
Hull City Council
33 Witham 

Tel -  01482 300 301
Text phone - 01482 300 349
Fax - 01482 615 518
Email -