Food Safety - common questions

We answer the most frequently asked questions about food safety. 

I think I have food poisoning from something I ate. What should I do?

You will need to contact your GP and arrange for a stool sample to be taken. If the sample is positive for food poisoning then it is notified to Environmental Health for an investigation. A food history will be taken and any businesses that may be implicated will be investigated.

I bought some food from a local shop and I am not happy with it? What can I do?

You can report food that is poor quality or contaminated to Environmental Health. If you require a refund then you will need to speak to the business directly. Environmental Health do not arrange compensation or for you to be refunded

I visited a local food business and am not happy with the hygiene conditions? What should I do?

Make a note of the conditions that you have seen and contact Environmental Health. Let us know the date and time you visited the business and a good description of what you saw

I asked a food business for an allergen free meal. They said they could not do this. Is this legal?

Yes, if the business does not feel confident that they prepare you a meal that is allergen free due to cross contamination then it is safer for them to refuse than to take a risk. We do advise all our businesses on how to prepare foods safely with regards to allergens but sometimes the risk might not be able to be controlled adequately.

I bake cakes from home to sell to family and friends. Do I have to register as a food business?

Yes, anyone who operates a food business even from home has to be registered with their local Environmental Health department. You can register on the website.  

The shop near me sells out of date foods. Is this ok?

If the food has passed it’s “Best Before” and is still good quality then yes a shop can sell this food. A shop cannot legally sell or display for sale foods which have passed their “Use By” date. Use By is an indicator of the safety of the food and could be unsafe to eat even if it looks and smells ok. Read more informaiton on the Food Standards Agency website.

I own a food business and I am not happy with my hygiene rating. What can I do about this?

Details on how to appeal or ask for a revisit once works are completed will be contained within the letter you were sent. The details are also on The Food Standards Agency’s website. The cost for a revisit is £150.

Speak to the officer who issued the rating to discuss the score and get advice on how you can improve the rating

Why are food businesses who score 0 or 1 on the hygiene rating scheme still allowed to trade?

There is guidance in legislation and a Code of Practice as to when it is necessary to close a business down and Environmental Health must prove to a magistrate there is an imminent health risk. Businesses who get low scores are not necessarily an imminent health risk but other actions are taken to ensure they comply with food safety legislation such as prosecutions and hygiene improvement notices.

My school or community group want to have a barbeque. Is this ok?

Yes, you can contact us for advice or go to The Food Standards Agency’s website at
We would ask you to ensure there is suitable hand washing available, to keep raw and cooked food separate including during storage. Use separate equipment and utensils to handle raw and ready to eat foods. ensure all work surfaces and equipment are cleaned and disinfected. Temperature control is really important so high risk foods should be kept chilled, cooked thoroughly and eaten as soon as possible. More information is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

What temperature should my fridge and freezer operate at?

A fridge should operate between 1 and 4oC and should never go above 8oC. A freezer should operate at -18oC. You can purchase small thermometers or probes quite cheaply that will help you monitor the temperatures and you can make any changes if they are not correct

Should people who work in food businesses have a food hygiene certificate and how often should they be redone?

There is no legal requirement that formal training is carried out but food handlers should be trained, supervised and/or instructed to levels commensurate with their duties. Level 2 training in food safety is usually advisable. It is also recommended that if formal training is done then a refresher course should be done every 3 years.

I had an allergic reaction to a meal I ate even though I discussed my allergy with the staff. What should I do?

This is a serious issue so make sure you report it to the business and report it to Environmental Health also for an investigation.
All issues can be reported via the Food Standards Agencys website
Alternatively contact Knowsley Environmental Health directly on 0151 443 4712 or email  [email protected].

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