Food safety and the law

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European Community food safety laws came into force sometime ago. The legislation introduced a “farm to fork” approach to food safety by including primary production (farmers and growers) in food hygiene legislation for the first time in the majority of cases. If you operate a catering or food business, or are planning to start one, you must register all of your premises with the environmental health service before you use your premises. The premises will need to be approved if you supply another business with:

  • Meat and meat products
  • Eggs
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Fish and fish products

For information on how to register, you should contact the Environmental Health Service. Your premises will be inspected by Enforcement Officers from your local authority to make sure you are obeying the law. You will not usually be given notice of the inspection. When they think it is necessary, inspectors can take enforcement action to protect the public, including:

  • Serving a Hygiene Improvement Notice if you are breaking the law, which sets out steps you must take to comply
  • Serving a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice which forbids the use of premises or equipment
  • Recommending a prosecution

Food hygiene regulations set out the basic hygiene requirements for all aspects of a business and require you to make sure that:

  • The food you provide is safe to eat
  • Your premises meet hygiene standards
  • Staff follow good personal hygiene practice
  • Food safety problems are identified and controlled
  • Staff receive adequate instruction and/or training in food hygiene, and are supervised
  • Food is kept at a safe temperature
  • You keep written records of how you manage food safety hazards

The main change that was introduced is that food businesses (farmers and growers being the exception) are now required to use food safety management procedures based on the principles of hazard analysis critical control point or HACCP. HACCP requires logical thinking about what might go wrong with food prepared for sale and what must be done to ensure it is safe for customers. This requires integration between managing food safety with procedures of documentation and record. You should therefore ensure that you have put written food safety management procedures in place. The system is flexible however in that, for example, record keeping should be appropriate to the size and nature of the business. For further information about these issues contact Simon Exley on 01271 372128.