Food Premises Inspections

Our Health Unit works to promote, protect, and improve the health and well-being of all in our community.

On this page:

Chef's cooking in a kitchen

Why are food premises inspections done?

The Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) under the authority of the Health Protection and Promotion Act 1990 (HPPA) (R.S.O. 1990. c. h.7) gives Public Health Inspectors (PHI) at the Health Unit the responsibility and power to inspect anywhere food is prepared, stored, or served to the public.

Public Health Inspectors conduct inspections to make sure food premises owners and food handlers are meeting the minimum standards of the Ontario Food Premises Regulation. Regular inspections prevent and reduce foodborne illness in our community.

What is a food premise?

A food premise is a facility where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale (does not include a private residence) (HPPA, 1990).

What is the role of a Public Health Inspector?

PHIs conduct routine inspections of all food premises to ensure that owners and food handlers are meeting the minimum standards set out in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 562.

PHIs make sure owners and food handlers are:

  • Handling food in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Maintaining the food premise in a clean and sanitary condition.

PHI’s also educate food handlers in safe food handling practices onsite and provide food safety resources, including offering the Food Handlers Course.

How often are food premises inspected?

Routine inspections are required to make sure the food you’re eating is safe. There are about 2,600 food premises inspected in Windsor-Essex County. These food premises range from full service restaurants, churches and catering vehicles.

In 2015, ‘Ontario’s Guidance Document for the Risk Categorization of Food Premises’ was released by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The guidance document outlines risk factors and associated weights for each factor resulting in an overall score for each food premise. Based on this score, every food premises is assigned a risk level of high, moderate or low. This risk level then deems how many times per year the premise requires inspections as set out in the Ontario Food Safety Protocol.

A Public Health Inspector assesses the risk level of a food premise every year during an inspection. The risk level is given based on the likelihood that a food-borne illness outbreak could occur from the food served at that premise. For food premises which provide foods to vulnerable or at-risk people, have previous infractions, have extensive food handling, etc., it is more likely that harm could be caused to the public. In these cases, these food premises require more frequent inspections to ensure the public is safe.

Risk levels (High, Moderate, or Low) are assigned based on a variety of factors, each weighted differently:

Population Served

Vulnerable and at-risk populations (elderly, immunocompromised, children) are more likely to experience serious complications from eating contaminated food. Those food premises serving these clients (e.g., Hospital, long- term care home, retirement home, daycare, etc.) will require more frequent inspections.

Preparation and Serving

The likelihood of contamination increases with the amount of food handling and steps involved in the preparation of food (assembling, cooking, cooling, reheating, etc.). Those premises which have many steps in food preparation are higher risk than those serving only prepackaged foods. Full-service banquet halls and premises where food is primarily catered off site also have an increased risk for food-borne illness.

Compliance

Compliance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 562/90 is also weighted in the overall risk categorization score. Public Health Inspectors review inspection reports for the previous 12 months and determine if infractions were observed. Those with infractions are higher risk for foodborne illness outbreaks than those with no observed infractions.

Food-borne Illness/Outbreaks

If the premise has been confirmed as the source of a foodborne illness or outbreak related to improper food handling in the past 12 months, the premise is weighted a higher risk.

Food Safety Management Plan

If a documented food safety management plan is warranted but not in place, the premise is at a higher risk for foodborne illness outbreak. For premises with management plans in place, they are at a lower risk.

Food Safety Knowledge and Training

Premises where food handlers are not demonstrating safe food handling practices are higher risk. For those who have certified food handlers on site, they are at a lower risk.  Learn more about our certified food handler course.

Once the assessment is complete, the PHI will categorize the premises into one of the 3 risk categories and inspect it accordingly:

High risk food premises:

A premise which has a high likelihood of a food-borne illness outbreak occurring and are required to be inspected at least once every 4 months.

Moderate risk food premises:

A premise which has a moderate likelihood of a food-borne illness outbreak occurring and are required to be inspected at least once every 6 months.

Low risk food premises:

A premise which has a low likelihood of a food-borne illness outbreak occurring and are required to be inspected at least once every 12 month.

For more information, please see the Guidance Document for the Risk Categorization of Food Premises, 2015. http://govdocs.ourdigitalworld.org/node/28441

Types of inspections

Routine inspections are completed to make sure minimum standards set out in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 562 are met. A routine inspection can trigger a re-inspection depending on the severity of an infraction noted by the PHI.

Re-inspections are used to follow-up on outstanding issues noted during the routine inspection.

In Windsor-Essex County there are approximately:

  • 398 high risk premises routinely inspected at least three times per year (e.g., full service restaurant and nursing homes).
  • 874 medium risk premises routinely inspected at least two times per year (e.g., fast food restaurants and supermarkets).
  • 914 low risk premises routinely inspected at least once per year (e.g., convenient stores).
  • 420 un-rated food premises (e.g., special events, fairs/ festivals, exempt premises).

Reporting Food Safety Complaints or Suspected Foodborne Illness

Food safety complaints or suspected foodborne illness can be reported to Health Inspection Department at ext. 4475. Your personal information will be requested, however it remains confidential. A Public Health Inspector will respond to your complaint and conduct an investigation.

How can I check restaurant inspection results?

You can check the latest inspection results online at Safe Food Counts.

How do I open or move my food premises in Windsor-Essex County?

If you are thinking about opening a food premises or moving your current business in the Windsor-Essex County area, contact our Health Inspection Department to request a Food Premise Package or call to speak with one of our Public Health Inspectors at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475 for food premises requirements.

More on Food Premises Inspections

Frequently Asked Questions for Food Premises Operators

More on Food Premises Inspections