Food Premises Inspections

What is a Food Premises?

Food premises, according to Health Protection and Promotion Act R.S.O. 1990,  are any premises where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale, but does not include a private residence.

What is the Role of a Public Health Inspector?

Public Health Inspectors in from Southwestern Public Health routinely visit food premises to conduct routine inspections and, if needed, re-inspections. 

Public Health Inspectors look to see if the premises is following Food Premises Reg. 493/17, and if there are any immediate risks to the safety of the food being provided to the public.

What is a Risk Categorization?

Public Health Inspectors do a Risk Categorization for every food premises in St. Thomas, Elgin County and Oxford County every year. 

Risk Categorization for food premises is determined by factors such as:

  • Past and current compliance records of the food premises
  • Types of patrons (e.g., hospital, daycare, school programs)
  • How the food is prepared and served
  • Food safety management plan in place
  • Food safety knowledge and training of staff

For more details on Risk Categorization please review the Ministry’s Guidance Document for the Risk Categorization of Food Premises.

The risk categorization score that a premise receives determines if the establishment is high, medium or low risk. 

The number of routine inspections for a food premises are set out by Food Safety Protocol.  

High risk food premises are inspected at least three times per year; medium risk food premises are inspected at least two times per year and low risk food premises are inspected at least one time per year.

Besides routine inspections, Public Health Inspectors also conduct re-inspections. This is to follow-up on infractions which were observed during routine inspections.

Please note: If a food premises is assessed to be an immediate health risk, it is ordered to close down and will not reopen until food safety compliance is achieved.


Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.7.

Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 493/17 Food Premises.

Guidance Document for the Risk Categorization of Food Premises.

Ontario Public Health Standards. Food Safety Protocol.