Food sampling

Food sampling is undertaken as part of local or national investigations to establish the standard of food hygiene practices. Our food safety team will also take samples in response to food complaints and from premises that give cause for concern.

Our food safety team do not carry out sampling for the quality, composition or labelling of food products. This work is done by Trading Standards officers based at Somerset County Council.

There is an extensive food sampling programme which covers a wide variety of products.

In any year around 200 samples are taken from approximately 120 premises and sent for analysis.

The type of product selected for sampling and what it is sampled for will reflect both the European Union's sampling programme and any national sampling programmes.

Food products sampled by officers are examined for the presence of organisms that could give rise to food poisoning. These organisms include: salmonella, campylobacter, staphylococcus, E coli 0157 and listeria monocytogenes.

Ready-to-eat foods which would be eaten by the consumer without further preparation or cooking have featured prominently in our sampling programme because any contamination of the product will have a direct effect on the person consuming it.

Where problems are identified with a product, follow-up action will be taken. This will generally be in the form of advice on production methods, practices, controls and staff training. If it is necessary, products can be withdrawn from sale or formal action taken to enforce food safety law.

A guide for food businesses as to why samples are taken and the interpretation of the test results

For further information please contact the Food Safety Team