EHO Inspection Checklist: - Ace EHO Visits Every Time

Get ready for your EHO inspection with our expert tips and advice. Learn how to ace a visit every time and maintain the highest standards of food safety in your establishment. Read more now and prepare for success.
Joe Cripps
Jan 2024
4 min read
EHO inspection at restaurant

Anywhere that serves food needs to comply with food safety law. An Environmental Health Officer (EHO) inspection will determine whether you're doing this, and award you accordingly with a hygiene score.

We've created this guide, with the help of an Environmental Health Officer, to help you get a five-star hygiene rating every time.

Jump straight to our EHO inspection checklist or browse Trail’s food safety applications if you want to get prepared right away.

What is an EHO inspection?

Environmental Health Officers monitor and enforce health and hygiene. This applies to all food businesses (restaurants, bars, pubs etc.) of any size. They inspect businesses every 6 months to 3 years, depending on the level of risk.

An EHO will inspect the premises to ensure the correct standards are maintained and the food is safe to eat.

Whether you're a manager, supervisor or owner, you should be expecting a visit – an EHO can turn up at any time, on any day of the week. They don't need to book an appointment.

This is why it's so important to make sure you comply with health and safety laws at all times. An environmental health inspection checklist can help you be prepared, even for impromptu visits (keep reading and scrolling for our checklist template).

Make sure you’re ready for your next EHO inspection with Trail, the #1 all-in-one food safety & hygiene checklist app. Try it free for 14 days.

What does an EHO look for?

There are three strands to an environmental health inspection:

1. Safe food practices

  • How food is handled and how it's prepared/cooked
  • Whether good practices are followed, e.g. staff washing hands, pest control etc.
  • Food hygiene and safety
  • Contamination prevention methods

2. Premises and environment

  • Cleaning techniques & schedules
  • Equipment/ appliances maintenance
  • Temperature control
  • Overall premises: cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation etc.

3. Safety management

  • Whether you follow a food safety management system (e.g. HACCP)
  • Confidence in management, e.g. record keeping

In short: EHOs make sure you comply with the law. From food preparation to hygiene, they want to make sure your business is safe to the public.

Managing food hygiene guide

How often do Environmental Health Officers visit?

EHO visits vary depending on the type of business. And when your next visit happens will depend on the previous one. Companies are scored from A-E on the Food Law Code of Practice, determining whether they're considered low or high risk.

  • A = inspection at least every 6 months
  • B = inspection at least every 12 months
  • C = inspection at least every 18 months
  • D = inspection at least every 2 years
  • E = inspection at least every 3 years

An Environmental Health Officer will turn up whenever unannounced. So it's essential to prepare your team and make sure your business is compliant. Using an environmental health inspection checklist will help you to be EHO-ready.

Advice from an Environmental Health Officer

Trail's Compliance Advisor James Sergeant is an ex-EHO. He shared his advice to help food businesses stay ready for inspections.

What are the first things an EHO looks for?

I could gauge how well a business was performing within the first 5 minutes of entering.

Whilst washing my hands, I would instantly know whether they had the basics: hot water, soap and paper towels. I could see how people were handling and preparing food, the basic cleaning standards and unit conditions.

What else happens during the visit?

Next, I would physically inspect the area. Talk to the team, probe food for their temperatures and check their due diligence records. Gaps, overwritten or Tipp-Ex on any documents would arouse suspicion.

What are some other red flags?

I would often see the manager run off to the back of the kitchen, grab their clipboard and furiously write things down. All this information immediately fed into my' confidence in management' barometer.

An EHO would never penalise a business for things going wrong, but the critical thing we look out for is learning and responding with corrective action.

Environmental health inspection checklist

Use our environmental health inspection checklist to inspect your premises and food safety standards before the EHO comes for their official visit. To achieve a 5-star food hygiene rating, you'll need to make sure that you can put a ✅ next to each of the following:

Safe food practices:

  • Do staff tie their hair back or wear a hairnet?
  • Do you keep staff sickness records?
  • Do you have colour-coded chopping boards?
  • Do you have a separate preparation area for raw foods?
  • Do staff regularly wash their hands?


  • Do you have a pest control system?
  • Do you have clean and tidy storage areas?
  • Do you have separate sinks for dishwashing and handwashing?
  • Do your fridges and freezers have thermometers?

Food safety management:

  • Do you have a food safety system?
  • Can you provide evidence of all your food safety procedures?
  • Do you have a cleaning schedule?
  • Do you use food probes and keep them clean and calibrated?

Trail has a whole library of food safety checklists that are ready for you to start using in one simple, secure app. Request a demo to try them out for yourself.

Here are some more top tips for staying prepared:

  • Keep the outside of your premises tidy (EHOs will judge before even stepping foot in the door)
  • Prove the correct actions have been taken with clear record-keeping
  • Make sure your team maintains good personal hygiene
  • Train all your employees

And here's what to do when an Officer shows up:

  • Make sure they show ID (if it checks out, don't try and block an inspection - this is a criminal offence)
  • Be confident
  • Ensure the EHO provides feedback from an inspection
  • Listen to recommended improvements carefully
  • If you need to make changes, make sure you get it in writing

Digital checklists are easier to maintain than paper and remove the worry about records being lost. Be EHO-ready with Trail.

Managing food hygiene guide

What happens at the end of a visit?

Scores on the doors food hygiene rating

You will be presented with a standardised score from 1 to 5, known as 'Scores on the Doors'. Gaining the EHO's confidence and getting that 5-star hygiene rating is critical.

In an era where customers have information at their fingertips, a bad rating could spell disaster for a business. In Wales and Northern Island, it's required by law to quite literally display on the doors, so there's no hiding from it. This will likely become mandatory for England and Scotland too.

Use Trail to get that 5-star hygiene rating.

What happens if you don't meet the right standards?

An EHO could issue a hygiene improvement notice, which will clearly set out what you need to do to stay compliant. More severely, you could be hit with an emergency prohibition notice, which usually closes you down until further notice. Worst case scenario: an EHO can recommend prosecution if your business is below where it should be. They may also inform your local authority.

Even if you're not shut down, a bad reputation due to a low rating can be tough to repair. Of course, the flip side is that if you get a good score, you can display it with pride.

Feel you've been unfairly assessed? You can appeal within 21 days of being notified of your rating to your local authority's Lead Officer for Food. If you don't appeal in this time, your score will be published online.

Implement best practices with Trail

Recovering from a bad assessment is easier if you implement processes to ensure that you remain compliant with food safety standards in the future. Trail is a digital checklist app that will help you monitor any corrective actions that might be required, and stay on top of best practices in the future.

We have loads of ready made food safety templates to help your staff maintain their hygiene responsibilities, or you can use the app to maintain a digital record of custom actions that you need to take to improve your rating. 

kitchen audit checklist trail

Try Trail free today, or learn more about food safety compliance.

Want an easy way to stay EHO-ready?

Trail is a simple checklist app that replaces your existing paper processes for an easier way to stay compliant.

Through the day, Trail lets the right person know at the right time what needs doing. Everyone knows what to do and when to do it. Completed tasks form a secure digital log so you have perfect record keeping at your fingertips when the EHO walks in.

Get ready for that 5 hygiene rating with our food hygiene rating guide.

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What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

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