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Food Sampling

Environmental Health take samples of food from shops, restaurants and manufacturers in the Borough. Samples are tested for micro-biological quality. Test results help us to monitor the safety of food sold in the Borough and to take action when public health may be at risk.

How we choose the type of food that we sample.

Basildon Borough Council follows a regional food sampling programme outlined by   Gov.UK - Public Health England (opens new window).

The programme requires that food samples from various types of food business in the Borough are tested on a regular basis.

Working in partnership with other local authorities gives more statistically significant results and helps to focus resources on food that may pose a risk to public health.

In addition, Basildon Borough Council also contributes to similar national sampling programmes, as well as taking samples in response to our own local needs, for example,  in response to food complaints. For further information please see our   Food Sampling Policy Document (PDF) [40KB] (opens new window)

What the results of micro-biological testing mean.

The sample results are expressed as;

  • Satisfactory- test results show good microbiological quality
  • Acceptable- this result indicates a borderline limit of microbiological quality
  • Unsatisfactory- test results indicate that further sampling may be necessary and that environmental health officers may wish to investigate whether the hygiene practices in the premises are adequate or not
  • Unacceptable/potentially hazardous- test results indicate that urgent attention is needed to locate and remedy the source of the problem

For more information view our summary leaflet Interpreting Microbiological Results (PDF) [43KB] (opens new window)  or read more about the guidelines for assessing microbiological safety of ready to eat foods placed on the market (opens new window) from the Health Protection Agency.

What we do when we receive unsatisfactory or unacceptable/potentially hazardous results.

Unsatisfactory results are handed to the environmental health officer for the area who will analyse the result and decide what action is going to be taken.

This will relate to the risk to health posed by the result.

Officers may decide to re-sample the food and look at the hygiene practices at the premises where the food was prepared.

Unacceptable / potentially hazardous results receive immediate action to protect public health. This will involve a thorough investigation. Thankfully these results are very rare.