We receive requests for more information surrounding our Food Hygiene Inspections, including requests for copies of officer reports and photos.

This FSA website provides an opportunity to search for food premises in the area and establish their specific food rating, and it also provides some additional explanations as to why they’re likely to have received that rating.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) has exemptions including section 30 (1) (b) Investigations and Proceedings. This exemption states: 

Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it has at any time been held by the authority for the purpose of – (b) any investigation which is conducted by the authority and in the circumstances may lead to a decision by the authority to institute criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct.

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Section 30 (1) (b) Investigations and Proceedings

In short, this means that if the information is of a type described in the exemption then it's covered by that exemption - essentially it's a class-based exemption.

Public interest considerations favouring disclosure 

  • There's an inherent interest within the FOIA that public disclosure promotes better government through transparency and accountability
  • There's justified concern of hygiene standards at food establishments such as restaurants in the interest of public safety 
  • It's important that the public have confidence in the ability of public authorities to uphold the law and ensure fair investigatory process
  • Releasing this type of information may encourage other food establishments to increase their vigilance with regards to hygiene standards

Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information 

  • The food hygiene rating of the establishment in question is already publicly accessible online at the Food Standards Agency website
  • Immediate steps would be taken by the public authority if public safety was at risk
  • Public authorities require a safe space in which to operate and premature disclosures of investigations could prejudice proceedings where any investigation is ongoing
  • Releasing the information may inhibit the co-operation of food outlets in any future investigation process
  • Any information would be available to the public once an investigation is complete

Our conclusion

In this case, we've concluded that the public interest favours withholding the information. Although there's public interest in this matter, disclosure of this information risks the integrity of the authority’s ongoing investigation. It could prejudice any future proceedings which are required to maintain public safety.