Food Safety Inspections - Information for the General Public

In Halton, Public Health Inspectors regularly conduct Business Womaninspections of food premises. This web page contains general information about food safety inspections for the public.

Information is also provided on our website for people working in the food services industry.

What is the purpose of food safety inspections?

The purpose of food safety inspections is:

  • To reduce the possibility of foodborne illness for people eating and/or purchasing products from various food premises in Halton.
  • To monitor and evaluate staff handling/preparing and/or serving food at various locations to ensure they comply with safe food handling practices and basic sanitation requirements, as set out by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. 
  • To improve the skills of people working in the food industry by providing training courses.
  • To promote self-monitoring of food premises by operators and staff well trained in HACCP principles 

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What is a food premise?

  • According to the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, C.H.7, a food premise is defined as: A premises where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale, but does not include a private residence. (examples - restaurants, food take-outs, institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and day care centres)

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How often does the Health Department conduct food inspections?

  • The Health Department inspects all food premises at least once a year. 
  • Food premises are ranked as high, medium, low risk. 
  • The ranking of the food premise (restaurant, vending truck, grocery store etc.) determines how many times it will be inspected in a year.
  • There are seven groups of food safety standards that a food premise must meet in order to pass inspection. 

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How do I file a complaint about a food premise?

If you eat at a restaurant or purchase food from a food premise in Halton (e.g., grocery store, convenience store etc.) and you have concerns about the food you were served or the cleanliness of the premise, you can call the Health Department and file a complaint.

All food complaints and suspected cases of food poisoning are investigated by the Health Department within 24 hours.

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What is the Health Department doing to ensure the safety of food premises in Halton?

In addition to food safety inspections, the Health Department offers training to staff working in the food services industry through the Food Handler Certification Program.

For residents of Halton, the Health Department promotes the Dinewise program, a mandatory food safety program for restaurants. Participants in the program post their Certificate of Inspection in a highly visible area so that patrons are informed that the restaurant is regularly inspected by the Health Department and that Summary Inspection Reports are available for viewing upon request. The public can also access the Summary Inspection Reports online

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Do I need approval if I am holding a special event where food will be served or sold?

Yes. Anytime you are hosting a special event where foods are prepared, processed and /or sold to the public for eating either on or off-site, you require approval from the Health Department prior to the event. 

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