Food safety regulations

There are specific requirements under general food law and food hygiene regulations which apply directly to food businesses. The Food Standards Agency has a specific business and industry section of their website where you will find all the advice and guidance you need to produce safe food, from allergens, botulism and e.coli to listeria and vacuum packing.

Food safety management systems

All food outlets must produce food that is safe to eat but the law requires businesses to be able show what they do to make food safe to eat, and to have this written down. They must also keep records of the checks made. The Food Standards Agency has designed a simple to use tool kit which comprises an instruction pack and a diary which allow basic records to be kept. This can be downloaded from the resources section of their website.

Allergen information for consumers

You can expect to see details of the regulated 14 allergens contained in the food you buy either on the label, menus, chalk boards, tickets or provided verbally by an appropriate member of staff.

When ordering restaurant and take-away foods, you may be asked about allergy requirements before completing the order and you can expect to be provided with further information regarding the allergens on service or delivery of the meal.

The information requirement for food allergens were introduced in the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulations (No. 1169/2011) and the Food Information Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1855).

The allergens included by this law are

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten
  • crustaceans
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs
  • mustard
  • nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soya
  • sulphur dioxide.

The Food Standards Agency fact sheet gives some examples of where they can be found.

Cards for showing to the catering staff

If you have an allergy download a "Think Allergy" Card that outlines the foods you must avoid, these can be used to communicate your food allergies to catering staff.

Requirements for business operators

Distance selling

If non-prepacked food is sold at a distance, such as food takeaway businesses which offer purchase through telephone/internet, you need to ensure that allergen information is made available to the consumer before they decide to buy the product.

Allergen information must also be made available at the point of delivery.
All allergen information given by telephone must be at free phone or standard rate call charges.

Resources for Businesses

For detailed information on food allergen labelling and information requirements see the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Technical Guidance.

Safer Food, Better Business

This food safety management system will assist small catering businesses comply with hygiene regulations that came into effect in January 2006. Once you have demonstrated your safe methods to ensure food safety, daily checks recorded in the diary supplied in the pack should only take a matter of minutes each day. This system will allow you to comply with law and protect your business's reputation.

Food hygiene and safety training

The rigorous enforcement of food hygiene legislation is important but it is not, in itself, sufficient to prevent food poisoning, which is normally caused by negligence or ignorance and, consequently, most experts in food hygiene believe that a reduction in the high level of food poisoning cases will only be achieved by the effective management of food safety hazards.

There is a requirement under EU Regulations that employees in food businesses should be trained in food hygiene matters to a level commensurate with their duties and responsibilities. To comply with the training requirements, food handlers and managers need not necessarily attend a formal training course. The necessary skills may be obtained in other ways such as through on-the-job training, self-study or relevant prior experience. Training of food handlers needs to include the food safety management system specified by a business.

Recognised training courses are administered by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). In addition to training in the principles of food hygiene, training will also need to cover cleaning, pest control and the principles of hazard analysis that are relevant to the work being done.

Business information on food related trading standards issues can be found at www.businesscompanion.info

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