The Food Safety Act and all regulations made under it aim to make sure all food offered to the public is safe to eat and is properly described.
Who will inspect your business?
Environmental Health Officers and Food Inspectors have the right to enter and inspect food premises at all reasonable hours. They do not have to make an appointment and they will usually come without advance notice. They carry out routine inspections and may also visit as a result of a complaint. How often routine inspections happen depends on the potential risk posed by the type of business and its previous record. Some premises may be inspected at least every six months, others much less often.
Inspectors will look at the way you operate your business to identify potential hazards and to make sure it complies with the law. They will discuss any problems with you and advise on possible solutions.
Anyone who sells or processes food and is covered by the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 is legally bound to make sure they carry out their operations safely and hygienically (similar regulations apply in the rest of the UK). The regulations emphasise the need to control risks. They say that you must:
- Identify all steps in your activities that are critical to food safety
- Ensure adequate safety controls are in place, maintained and reviewed
Controls do not need to be complex but they must be effective. There are internationally recognised formal packages that can be used by food businesses to help ensure that hazards are identified and controls are in place. Such systems, which focus on prevention and the control of practices and procedures, have a proven record of providing sound consumer protection. However they are not compulsory and many businesses do not require this level of control.
This page, which covers businesses throughout the United Kingdom, gives a short introduction to what this is likely to mean for you. But the guidance is advisory - it is up to each individual food business to check how the regulations apply to them in practice.
Which Food Businesses are covered by the Regulations?
The regulations apply to all types of food businesses - from a hot dog van to a five star restaurant, from a village hall where food is prepared, to a vending machine. They apply whether the food is sold publicly or privately, for profit or for fundraising. But they do not apply to food cooked at home for private consumption.
Some businesses should follow other regulations that apply to their specific product. Generally, these are suppliers and producers of products of animal origin, such as dairies, meat processors, or wholesale fish markets. Please consult your local Environmental Health Officer for more information (contact details are at the bottom of this page).
What is required?
You should look at your business operations, identify areas of potential harm to customers, and satisfy yourself that you have sufficient controls in place to minimise such risks.
For example, if you store perishable ready-to-eat foods, such as meat or fish products, at room temperature for long periods, there is a hazard that harmful bacteria could grow to dangerous levels on the food. Refrigeration is a mechanism you can use to help control this hazard.
What do you need to do?
Identify potential hazards (things that might be harmful):
Assess what possible food hazards there are in your business.
Identify the areas where they could occur.
Pinpoint those areas that are critical to ensuring food safety.
Introducing controls such as:
- Making sure you have adequate safety controls in place at those points critical to ensuring food safety.
- Regularly monitoring the controls to check they are working effectively.
- Maintaining and reviewing all controls.
- Reviewing your assessments, control and monitoring procedures periodically, and whenever the food operations change.
These are principles that underlie a formal system known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). But the regulations do not require that businesses use any specific or formal system.
The nature and complexity of the system used will, in practice, depend on the nature and complexity of the business you operate. You do not need to keep written records of your analysis and monitoring procedures, though you may find them particularly useful if you run a large business or a small but 'High-risk' business. Also, records may be helpful when demonstrating compliance with the regulations.
It is possible you have all the necessary controls in place already. Even so, by going through the process of assessing potential problems you had not considered before. You will certainly be able to check your controls are working properly. This is particularly important at points in your operation- after which no further controls are applied- that would eliminate or control food safety hazards.
Hazard analysis will also help you comply with other requirements of the regulations, by helping decide what level of control is necessary and appropriate to your business.
Many food poisoning incidents are the result of poor practices, which only come to light after incidents have occurred.
By analysing the potential hazards in your business and being aware of those activities that may be critical to food safety, you can reduce the likelihood of problems actually occurring and causing harm. This is good for your customers and good for your business.
How We Can Help
We can implement a HACCP based food management system and keep this up to date as required by The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006, tailored to your business requirements. A HACCP based system dosn't have to be complex. We can evaluate your business needs and implement a system which will work for you.
Pre-requisite policies are important for putting a HACCP system into practice. Our service includes ensuring the correct procedures are in place. From Temperature records to personal hygiene policy. Writting up policies specific to your business. Design of logs and forms to work along side your operational procedures.
An adequacy audit will identify what is required to fullfill the requirements of an effective food safety management system which you can then choose if you wish us to implement or simply give you the guidance on implementing yourselves.
Having a system in place is the beginning. Regular compliance auditing is important to ensure your employees are following and adhering to the system. A poor EHO inspection can result in bad publicity, costly resolve, and even closure. To ensure your customer safety, we can audit your premises on a regular basis to allow early identification and resolve of potential problems.
Should the unfortunate happen and you end up in court, due dilligence is the key to any defence. Have you done all you reasonably can to ensure food safety standards.
With a strong retail and leisure background we can combine food safety checks with customer service auditing by way of mystery shop visits and merchandising standards auditing.