Skip to main content

Our Food Safety Officers undertake food sampling to ensure that the food which is produced is safe to eat. Wherever possible, food-sampling activities will include current national, regional and locally coordinated programmes as well as samples taken as a result of:

  • complaints
  • process monitoring
  • inspections
  • home Authority Principle activities
  • special investigations
  • imported foods


The following factors will be taken into account when developing the Sampling Programme:

  • protection of the consumer through the enforcement of food legislation
  • identifying foods that pose a hazard to the consumer because they contain significant levels of pathogenic bacteria
  • assessing the microbiological quality of food manufactured, distributed or retailed in the area
  • identifying contravention's of food safety legislation, e.g. Food Safety Act 1990 Section 8 (food which is unfit or food which is so contaminated) or Section 14 (food not of the quality)
  • helping determine whether advice or enforcement action would be appropriate where it is suspected that poor practices and procedures exist
  • offering advice and guidance, if appropriate, on food hygiene matters


Where possible, the Devon Chief Environmental Health Officers Food Liaison Group take part in all food sampling surveys it is requested to participate in. On occasion, surveys may have limited relevance to the area as they involve foods not available locally (or in limited supply), or refer to types of food premises not sited in the area. In such cases we may have to limit the number of samples we submit to the laboratory or opt out of the survey entirely.

Food Sampling Programmes

Food sampling programmes are determined by the following:

National Programmes

National surveys may be organised by:

Regional Sampling Programme

The Devon Chief Environmental Health Officers Food Liaison Group includes members from the local food microbiology laboratory, Public Health England and all Environmental Health Departments in Devon. The group coordinates sampling programmes looking at products of particular local significance, of which recent studies have included cooked meat from farmers markets, local cooked crab, hogs pudding and rice from local takeaways.

All members agree recommendations and ideas for sampling surveys. Suggestions and justifications for future surveys are made either by food officers through the food liaison meetings or as a result of outbreaks or incidents involving certain foods, where an extended survey could establish whether there could be a more widespread problem.

Wherever possible, one survey will usually include a questionnaire where additional information is gathered, which may indicate reasons for poor sample results and assist in determining whether advice or enforcement action would be appropriate. A Protocol for the survey will normally be drawn up.

Local Sampling Programmes

A survey for your local authority may be generated for various reasons, including:

  • a follow up to a food poisoning incident
  • local problems highlighted as a result of taking part in national or regional surveys
  • local sampling initiatives

Scope of Sampling

The Unitary Authorities Torbay and Plymouth are responsible for food standards issues such as food composition or labelling, (usually requiring samples analysis). For the rest of Devon, these matters are the responsibility of the Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Department through Devon County Council.

Food Complaints

Samples of food received as food complaints may require either microbiological examination or chemical analysis. All food complaints are taken seriously and the results of an examination or analysis may generate the need for more controlled sampling of the food product, or from the food premises.

Sampling Policies

Please see our Food Sampling Policy [31kb]. We may also publish our sampling programme.


Feedback form

500 character(s) left.
500 character(s) left.
500 character(s) left.