The council has a duty to ensure that food products and the premises in which they are handled meet legally prescribed standards. Sampling is one way of achieving this.
When is sampling carried out?
Food safety officers may take samples during a programmed inspection of a business or may visit specifically for the purpose of sampling. The sample could be food, water and/or environmental samples or swabs.
Why is sampling carried out?
Sampling may be carried out for the purpose of checking the safety or quality of the food and the environment in which it is produced. The food industry has a duty to ensure that micro-organisms and other contaminants are eliminated or minimised to the extent that they cannot cause harm to human health. Food safety officers carry out checks to ensure food business operators (FBOs) comply.
The sampling may be linked to:
- investigations into food contamination or food poisoning incidents
- participation in an EU, national, regional or local sampling programme
- surveillance and intelligence
- a request by the business to assist with the verification of food safety management systems
Testing the food environment via swabs also makes a positive and additional contribution to food safety.
Who takes the samples?
Formal samples taken in accordance with the provisions of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, section 29 of the Food Safety Act 1990 or the Food Safety (Sampling and Qualification) (England) Regulations 2013 will only be undertake by authorised officers of the council with the relevant qualifications and sampling competencies as defined in the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food Law Code of Practice (England).
Who tests the samples?
All samples for analysis, taken under section 29 of the Food Safety Act 1990 in accordance with the Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) Regulations 2013 and with the requirements of this Code, will be submitted to the appointed public analyst at a laboratory accredited for the purposes of analysis, and which appears on the list of official food control laboratories maintained by the FSA.
All samples for examination, taken in accordance with regulation 14 of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 and the requirements of this Code, will be submitted to the food examiner at a laboratory accredited for the purposes of examination, and which appears on the list of official food control laboratories maintained by the FSA.
Samples are currently submitted electronically via the United Kingdom's Food Surveillance System (UKFSS) but this is currently under review.
What are the samples tested for?
Safety and hygiene criteria for most ready to eat foods are laid down in Regulation (EC) No. 2073/2005 (as amended) including sampling plans, analytical methods, and corrective actions. This supports the Regulation on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs (EC No. 852/2004) and the General Food Law Regulation (EC No. 178/2002) In addition, the Regulation laying down specific rules for food of animal origin ([EC] No. 853/200420) contains criteria for marine biotoxins, for live bivalve molluscs, and raw milk.
Tests will be carried out for pathogens, indicator organisms or other contaminants depending on the type of food and the method of processing.
What happens to the results of the testing?
The sampling officer will notify the business of their test results together with any corrective action needed.
This policy sets out the authority's general approach to food sampling and its approach in specific situations together with its food sampling priorities.
It does not cover food composition and labelling issues or feeding stuff which are the responsibility of Gloucestershire Trading Standards although it recognises our collaborative working in the area of food allergens and their management.