Food premises: frequently asked questions
Is inspection and enforcement information available online for food premises?
Check Before You Go! has information about required and follow-up inspections, complaints, infractions, convictions, as well as orders imposed by Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
What is a food premises?
A food premises is a location where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold, or offered for sale. Private residences are not food premises.
Food premises include, but are not limited to:
- food takeouts
- convenience stores
- child care centres and institutional kitchens
Who inspects food premises?
Public health inspectors from Public Health Sudbury & Districts are required to inspect all food premises located within the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts to make sure that they comply with the Food Premises Regulation.
How often are food premises inspected?
Each food premises is assigned a risk category based on an annual site-specific risk assessment. Based on the factors listed below, a premises is assigned a risk rating of high, moderate, or low risk.
- Characteristics of the population served (for example, the elderly, the young, or immunocompromised people are at a higher risk of illness).
- The type of food prepared and served: premises that prepare and serve hazardous food pose a higher risk than those that are shelf-stable such as pre-packaged foods. Hazardous foods are foods that can support the growth of disease causing organisms.
- What the food handler has to do to serve the food: the more steps that are required to prepare the food, the more chances there are for something to go wrong that could make someone sick. Establishments that handle food extensively are ranked at a higher risk rating.
- History of compliance with regulations, foodborne illness, or outbreaks: food premises with a history of not complying with regulations, or causing a foodborne illness or an outbreak have higher risk ratings.
- Food safety management plans: food premises with a documented and systematic approach to identifying and assessing hazards and risks have reduced risk ratings.
- Food safety knowledge and training: if there is at least one Certified Food Handler on site and they demonstrate safe food handling practices, the risk rating will be lower.
The Ontario Public Health Standards require that public health inspectors inspect all food premises in accordance with the following schedule:
- not less than once every 4 months for high-risk premises
- not less than once every 6 months for moderate-risk premises
- not less than once every 12 months for low-risk premises
Public health inspectors conduct additional inspections for many reasons:
- to make sure that food premises correct any problems that were found during a routine inspection
- to respond to food recalls
- to respond to emergency events such as fires, floods, and power outages
- to investigate complaints or reports received by the general public
What does a “required inspection” mean?
Public health inspectors have the duty and the authority under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to inspect food premises within their jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the Food Premises Regulation. Required inspections are also known as compliance or routine inspections.
During inspections, public health inspectors look for unsafe food handling practices and other issues of non-compliance with legislation.
If an immediate health hazard is observed during an inspection, the public health inspector could close the food premises and/or issue offence notices (tickets) under the Provincial Offences Act for non-compliance with the Food Premises Regulation.
What are follow-up inspections?
During the course of a required (compliance) inspection, if a public health inspector identifies infractions under the Food Premises Regulation, a follow-up inspection is conducted to ensure that appropriate corrective action has been taken by the food premises owner or operator.
What is a complaint inspection?
Members of the public can notify Public Health Sudbury & Districts about a food safety or food-related concern they have about a food premises. Public health inspectors investigate complaints from members of the public as a way to identify violations of the Food Premises Regulation.
What happens if a food premises is non-compliant?
Public health inspectors work closely with owners and operators to ensure that they comply with food safety legislation. When this is not possible or when there is an imminent risk to the public’s health, enforcement will occur.
Public health inspectors are also designated as Provincial Offences Officers and therefore have the ability to issue tickets (offence notices) or summons, or using the authority of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), issue orders when there is non-compliance.
The HPPA also gives public health inspectors the power to seize, examine, and destroy food. This would occur in situations where the inspector has reason to believe the seizure, examination, or destruction of food will eliminate or decrease the risk of a health hazard.
Recent enforcement activities in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts are posted online.
How can you report unsafe food handling practices?
If you see unsafe food handling practices at a food premises or think you became ill after eating at a food premises, report it to Public Health Sudbury & Districts online or by calling 705.522.9200, ext. 464 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200). A public health inspector will conduct an inspection of the premises.
What steps should you take if you are planning to open a new food premises?
Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, owners and operators have an obligation to notify the Medical Office of Health of their intentions to operate a food premises.
Anyone wishing to prepare and sell food to the public must notify the Medical Officer of Health in writing (PDF, < 1 MB) prior to the operation of their business. The Starter Kit: A Guide to Opening and Operating A Food Premises (PDF, < 1 MB) provides a list of requirements that food premises must follow. A public health inspector is available to educate owners/operators on these items.
How can you learn more about food safety?
You can become a Certified Food Handler by taking a one-day food handler training and certification program offered by Public Health Sudbury & Districts. For course information or to register, contact 705.522.9200, ext. 398 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
This item was last modified on January 22, 2020