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Inspection of Food Establishments

It is the responsibility of every food business operator to comply with the food legislation in order to produce and sell safe food.  The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) checks that the food businesses comply with the legal requirements

​All food establishments have to perform own-checks concerning food safety etc. Read more about own-checks in food establishments.
All food establishments in Denmark must be either registered or approved by DVFA.

Control activities
DVFA uses different control activities when inspecting food businesses, e.g.:

  • Basic control, e.g.:
    • Ordinary inspection according to fixed frequencies, 
    • Extra inspection after an inspection resulting in sanctions,
    • Other inspections, e.g. related to certain subjects with fixed frequencies,
    • Inspection in relation to approval.
  • Prioritised basic control i.e. supplementary ordinary inspections focused on businesses or industry sectors with special need.,
  • Inspection campaigns. 

Sampling for analyses in laboratory projects may supplement the above mentioned control activities.   

Frequency for ordinary inspections
Frequencies for ordinary inspections in a food business is determined by a general risk evaluation based on an evaluation in relation to the indiv​idual food operator. In this way, the control is focused at establishments with the highest risk and need of inspection. 

Standard inspection frequency and risk groups
All food establishments (e.g. slaughterhouses, warehouses, butchers and bakers) are placed in one of five risk groups based on 5 risk factors. The 5 factors giving risk points are processes, products, activities, consumer base, and serving for vulnerable consumers.

Each risk group has a standard inspection frequency. The standard inspection frequencies vary from 4 ordinary inspections per year in e.g. establishments producing meat products and minced meat to inspection as and when required e.g. in wine shops.

Number of inspections depends also on compliance and special set ups

Differences between businesses regarding the ability and will to respect the food legislation will cause:

  • either fewer inspections, that is elite frequencies for businesses which have achieved elite status, (see explanation below) or
  • more inspections in the form of extra (follow-up) inspections of businesses which have received sanctions

Examples of inspection frequencies

The tables below show the relations between risk groups and standard and el​ite frequencies for ordinary inspections per year for wholesale and retail businesses etc. In reality the frequencies may vary for individual establishments depending on e.g. their activities.


Risk groupStandard inspection frequencyElite inspection frequencyExamples
Very high4


 (2 after one year with elite status)

Only wholesalers (BtoB). E.g. slaughterhouse, fish product establishment, dairy
High21Brewery, egg packing establishment, butcher (retail)
Medium10.5Production of vegetable products, cold store, restaurant, baker (retail)
Low0.50.5Storage – no temperature regulation, grocer's shop (retail)
Ultra lowAs and when required-Food trade without storage, wine shop (retail)


Elite status

Businesses with a standard inspection frequency of 0.5 (i. e. inspection every second year) or more achieve elite status, if they have received no sanctions on the last 4 inspection reports and have received no sanctions within the last 12 months. 

Businesses with standard frequency of 1 or more will have fewer inspections according to elite frequencies, if they have achieved elite status.

Businesses that have achieved elite status can use an Elite-smiley in their marketing.

You can read more about smileys and elite businesses at the website findsmiley.dk.

3rd party certification control scheme

If a food business has a 3rd party certification and it has a standard yearly inspection frequency of at least 1, it can apply to be part of a special control scheme. The scheme requires that the 3rd party certification of the establishment's quality control system covers all food activities and food legislative areas (small exceptions are possible). Within the scheme the standard inspection frequency is reduced – levels are found in the table below. The food inspectors use the information in the audit reports made by the certification bodies, during inspections.


Risk groupStandard frequencyElite frequency
Very high32 (1)


Control of chains of establishments

A chain of establishments can sign up for a special control scheme. The scheme comprises  inspections planned specifically depending on whether the head quarter or a branch is inspected. The scheme requires that the chain's head quarter is responsible for and manages relevant parts of the quality control in all branches. The combined inspection frequency for a chain is reduced by 1/3 if the chain as a whole has high compliance (few sanctions).

Meat control
Meat control takes place in all slaughterhouses in Denmark. No animal can be slaughtered and used for human consumption without prior inspection by a veterinarian.

Veterinarians and auxiliaries perform ante- and post-mortem controls. They also audit own-check programmes and other procedures, and inspect e. g. hygiene and animal welfare.


When an inspector discovers that an establishment violates the food law he or she can choose to use the following enforcements actions:

  • No sanction. If a non-compliance is so small that it would be out of proportion to sanction, the inspector can use guidance instead.
  • Warning
  • Injunction order
  • Prohibitory order
  • Administrative fine
  • Reporting to the police
  • Approval or registration withdrawn

The inspectors give the sanctions deemed necessary to ensure that the establishment corrects the non-compliance. If the establishment still fails to comply with the food law, the sanctioning is escalated to a more severe sanction. 

Inspections are performed without prior warning
Inspections are with few exceptions always carried out unannounced.

Inspection Frequency Guide

There is an updated version of the inspection frequency guide from 2019, where few areas of the activity-based risk characterisation differs from the translated version of the inspection frequency guide. The updated 2019 version is only available in Danish.

Last Modified 28. February 2019