Purpose of food safety inspections
The purpose of a food safety inspection is to:
- Reduce the possibility of food-borne illness for people eating and/or purchasing products from various food premises in Halton Region.
- Monitor and evaluate staff handling, preparing, and serving food at various locations to ensure that they comply with safe food handling practices and basic sanitation requirements, as set out by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
- Improve the skills of people working in the food industry by providing Food Handler Training.
- Promote self-monitoring of food premises by operators and staff well trained in HACCP principles.
According to the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, C.H.7 (external link), R.S.O. 1990, C.H.7 (external link), a food premise is defined as a premise 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 (e.g., restaurants, food take-outs, institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and daycare centres).
Conducting food inspections
The Health Department inspects all food premises (e.g., restaurant, vending truck, grocery store) at least once a year. It ranks premises as either high, medium or low risk. The ranking of the food premise determines how many times it will be inspected in a year.
Food premise operators must follow 7 steps to prevent prepared food from becoming contaminated.
Filing a complaint
If you eat at a restaurant or purchase food from a food premise (e.g., grocery store, convenience store) in Halton Region, and you have concerns about the food you were served or the premise's cleanliness, then call the Health Department (or call 311) to file a complaint.
The Health Department investigates all food complaints and suspected cases of food poisoning within 24 hours.
Safety of food premises
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 Region, the Health Department promotes the Dinewise program, a mandatory food safety program for restaurants. Participants in the program must post their Certificate of Inspection in a highly visible area so that patrons know that:
- The Health Department regularly inspects the restaurant
- Summary Inspection Reports are available for viewing upon request (reports are also available for viewing online)
Approval for special events
When you host a special event where foods are prepared, processed or sold to the public for eating either on or off-site, you must receive approval from the Health Department prior to the event.