Taking food, water and environmental (i.e. swabs of preparation areas and equipment) samples from food businesses forms an important part of Environmental Health's enforcement service.
Each year, Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) collects samples from a variety of businesses, including those selling high risk ready-to-eat foods.
MVDC also participates in countywide and national surveys of particular foods and takes samples following customer complaints, such as food poisoning allegations.
Samples are tested either by the Health Protection Agency or Public Analyst to discover if there are any harmful bacteria, chemicals or foreign objects. Those tested for bacteria are categorised against the Health Protection Agency 'Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiological Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods Placed on the Market'.
In some cases, MVDC may notify the Food Standards Agency.