Right to inspect restaurant kitchen

Sometime in the 70s, someone confidently assured me that in France, it is the law that no restaurant may unreasonably deny a customer's request to inspect its kitchen, e.g. at a convenient time and presuming the customer is not unhygienic.

I have tried Googling for details of this law, but have failed, probably because I'm not doing the search in French.

Can anyone link to online details or discussion of this law?

Hygiene inspectors also carry all the protective clothing they are legally required to wear. It is not a pack of sarnies in the chunky case they carry in.

I would imagine nowadays that the opposite would be more appropriate. I can see there being strict laws preventing the general public having access to the kitchens etc due to the Health & Safety laws. I wouldn't think the insurance companies would be too happy either !

Perhaps this was a law that existed prior to the introduction of regulations requiring regular official hygiene inspections - and the concomitant establishment of such inspectorates?

Perhaps 'no customer may be unreasonably denied' became 'no official hygiene inspector may be unreasonably denied'?

I'm beginning to think this is a question for an old lawyer or an old restaurateur familiar with restaurant legislation/diner's rights pre 1970?

I have googled this in French and have found nothing in Law to suggest that this is the case. For what it is worth, I have just done my mandatory Hygiène Alimentaire HACCP regulatory training of 14 hours stage / training according to French Law, despite the fact that I had already done it in England in 2002. Not unsurprisingly, your supposition was not mentioned in my training. (I agree, but why should it).

It seems unlikely given all the regs in force today.

How could the customer qualify as to health, safety and risk?

There is such a mass of legislation concerning proper clothing/non-slip shoes for use only in the kitchen/general hygiene/risk-management for people actually working in kitchens that I doubt a customer would be allowed in unless it was at a time nothing was going on - in the UK I was shown around the kitchens at the Manoir aux Quat' Saisons by Raymond Blanc who was justifiably proud of his installation & snazzy cookers etc but it was well after a delicious lunch & there were just minions doing bits of polishing, I have been shown around kitchens in France in similar circumstances, but it was always a proposition from the owner not my request.

Hygiene inspectors turn up at any time generally without notice & that's quite different.

Never heard of such a visit being a legal right of the customer but it may exist somewhere.

Restaurants as well as other food outlets are inspected much more regularly nowadays but the most common way to bring about an inspection is by contacting the hygene people in whichever is the nearest office to the restaurant in question.


If you suspect an establishment of non-respect of hygene regs you can contact the people mentioned in this text.

In fact, visiting a kitchen is complicated as it is, rightly, considered as unhygienic, disrupting and downright dangerous during service. Outside service time, most chefs are either resting, meeting suppliers or taking care of administrative work. I know that in Greece, most people inspect the kitchen before ordering a banquet, but I've never heard about that in France. I speak from experience, as my dad was a chef and owned a restaurant.

Of course, if there were no law obliging a restaurant to allow inspections, then one can still ask.

However, I was assured that it was more than "one is allowed to ask", i.e. more that "the restaurant is obliged to permit, or at least, to not unreasonably deny requests".

Does anyone else at least have vague memories of this 'right to inspect the kitchen'?

It was originally couched to me as "Unlike in England, in France, one has the right to inspect the kitchen...", and thus, at that time, my opinion of French restaurants and law regulating them consequently increased a tad.

It may be that the law has long since been struck off or superseded by European health & safety zealotry.

Actually, you can ask to visit the kitchen as a client, but the restaurant manager doesn't have to accede to the customer's request. Usually, it's possible as long as nobody is actually working at the time of client "inspection" and you have to make an appointment. There is no law.