Why is food safety so important?
Good standards of food safety are necessary to prevent:
- Food poisoning;
- Food spoilage ;
- Food contamination;
- Allergic reactions;
- Loss of productivity;
- Pest infestations;
- Prosecution for contravention of food safety legislation; and
- Closure of catering operations by enforcement authorities.
What costs result from poor food safety?
The costs associated with poor food safety are both financial and social, and can affect both employers and employees. The costs to the employer could include:
- Financial resulting from loss of working days if employees suffer food poisoning or an allergic reaction;
- Compensation claims for loss of earnings;
- Loss of reputation;
- Decontamination, cleaning and replacement of equipment; and
- Additional pest control.
What legislative requirements concern food safety?
Under the Food Safety Act 1990 a food business must not:
- Cause food to be dangerous to health;
- Sell food that is not what the customer is entitled to expect in terms of content or quality; and
- Describe or present food in a way that is false or misleading.
The other laws that you need to be aware of are:
The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
The Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (as amended)
The Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006
The Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
These regulations make it a requirement for all food businesses to implement food safety management procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) techniques:
- Identify points in those operations where food hazards may occur
- Decide which points identified are critical to ensure food safety
- Identify and implement effective control and monitoring procedures at critical control points (CCPs)
- Periodic review and analysis of food hazards, CCPs, and control and monitoring procedures, and also when there is an operational change
What are the Food Information Regulations 2014?
These regulations provide details on the information which must be provided to consumers and how that information must be presented. It also confirms the 14 substances or products that cause allergies or intolerances.
How do you measure the performance of your catering operation?
This can be achieved by carrying out an audit of the documentation, practices and procedures which occur during the delivery, storage, preparation, cooking, cooling and serving of hot and cold food. The audit should include an examination of the following areas:
- Management of food safety;
- Receipt and storage of food;
- Structural maintenance;
- Temperature control;
- Personal hygiene;
- Contamination control;
- Pest control;
- Refuse disposal;
- Front of house; and
- Allergen management.
An audit of all areas will confirm whether your catering operation complies with appropriate legislation and best practice guidelines.
Who should carry out a food safety audit?
The idea organisation to carry out a food safety audit is an accredited, independent company with no links to any other projects, services or companies. This will ensure the audit results are unbiased and are not used to sell you further services.
This guide is of a general nature; specific advice can be obtained from Assurity Consulting. Assurity Consulting is the UK's leading independent compliance consultancy specialising in workplace health, safety and environmental solutions. We have over 30 years' experience of helping customers of all sizes, from across all sectors, manage their compliance responsibilities, making sure that their organisation is compliant, their employees are safe, their processes are cost effective and their management team is in control.