Food safety - regulations
The laws on food hygiene changed in 2006, and now greater emphasis is put on the way in which risks to the safety of food are managed. Food businesses now have a clear legal duty to make sure that food served or sold to customers is safe to eat. Every food business will have different risks, depending upon the type of food that is prepared and the way in which it is produced and handled. A written food safety management plan and procedures, based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles, must now be put in place, implemented and maintained (see Safer Food Better Business).
The main areas of legislation that cover general food business are:
- The Food Safety Act 1990
- The General Food Regulations 2004
- The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006
- The Food Labelling Regulations 1996
- Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 (lays down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety)
- Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 (regards the hygiene of foodstuffs)
- Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 (laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin)
The above legislation makes it an offence for anyone to sell (or keep for sale) food that is unfit for people to eat or cause food to be dangerous to health, sell food that isn't what the customer is entitled to expect, in terms of content or quality or describe or present food in a way that is false or misleading.
They also place an obligation on businesses to ensure that their activities are carried out in a hygienic way. As a proprietor, you are responsible for checking specifically what you need to do to comply with the law. Failure to do this could lead to formal action being taken, which could result in financial penalties and accompanying adverse publicity.
Some food businesses also require a licence from the Licensing Section e.g. Late Night Refreshment Houses.
Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 sets out the basic hygiene principles that food businesses must follow in relation to staff, premises and food handling. Under the regulations, you must have effective controls necessary to avoid contamination, to ensure that food is produced safely and that the health of your customers is not put at risk.
The controls include:
- Premises are clean and in a good state of repair
- Good drainage, lighting and ventilation
- Sufficient waste disposal facilities
- Toilet facilities for staff
- Equipment is in good condition and kept clean
- Permanent arrangements for pest control which guard against infestation by rats, mice, flies, cockroaches and other insects
- An effective cleaning routine
- Staff who are appropriately clothed and trained and have good personal hygiene habits
- Arrangements for ensuring that all foods received into the premises are in good condition
- Handling, storage and transport practices which meet temperature control requirements and avoid contamination
You must identify potential hazards associated with your business and introduce which will control the risks and to ensure food safety
Schedule 4 of The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 requires certain foods to be held at temperatures that will prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
It is an offence to allow food to be kept at temperatures that would cause a risk to health, so you must make sure foods that need temperature control are kept at the right temperature.
- Foods that need to be kept hot should be kept at 63°C or above
- Foods that need to be kept cold should be kept at 8°C or below (preferably at 5°C or below)
- Foods that need to be kept frozen should be kept between -18°C to -24°C