There is a food sampling programme which covers a wide variety of products. Samples are taken and sent for microbiological examination. The type of product selected for sampling and what it is sampled for will reflect both European Union's sampling programme and any national and local sampling programmes.
Food products sampled by officers are examined for the presence of organisms that could give rise to food poisoning. These organisms include: salmonella, campylobacter, staphylococcus, E coli 0157 and listeria monocytogenes. Ready-to-eat foods which would be eaten by the consumer without further preparation or cooking have featured prominently in our sampling programme because any contamination of the product will have direct effect on the person consuming it. Where problems are identified with a product, follow-up action will be taken. This will generally be in the form of advice on production methods, practices, controls and staff training. If it is necessary, products can be withdrawn from sale or formal action taken to enforce food safety law.
Sampling is mainly carried out informally, but if an unsatisfactory result is received a further formal sample may be taken that could result in formal action being taken if found to be necessary.