Food Hygiene Legislation in the United Kingdom

Is there any food hygiene legislation which may affect the operation of my business?

Throughout the United Kingdom there are vast amount of different workers in different industries who will be handling food, whether they be in the catering industry or the farming industry. As a consequence it is necessary to have specific legislation in the UK dealing with all aspects of food hygiene.

Legislation

The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations were introduced in 2006 affecting all food businesses such as caterers, primary producers (for example farmers), manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

The regulations provide the framework for the European Union Laws on food hygiene to be established in England and Wales.

The new legislation was established to set out clearly the duty of food businesses to produce food safely and to achieve consistency.

How does the legislation affect my business?

How the legislation will affect your business depends upon the size and type of your business.

Registration

Is there a requirement of registration for my business?

Most food business will be required to be in contact with their local authority to register their business with that local authority. This requirement was first established by the European Union Regulations and now is required under UK law by the Food Hygiene Regulations.

At what stage should I approach the local authority?

Food business operators whose establishments are required to be registered should approach the relevant local authority preferably before the premises open. It is often good practice to do this before you have even started using the new premises. If you have previously registered the premises and have not changed the type of work which you do then you will not be required to register them again.

Approval of Premises

The premises for certain types of businesses need to be approved by the local authority rather than being registered.  In order to gain approval for you business you will be required to approach the local authority directly.

Businesses that produce the following foods will need to be approved by the local authority:

What is the main change brought about by the Regulations?

The Regulations state that all food business operators must put into place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on the principle of hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP).

What is the principle of hazard analysis critical control points?

The principle of hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP) is an internationally recognised and recommended system of food safety management. It focuses specifically on identifying the critical points in a process whereby food safety problems or hazards could possibly arise and putting steps in place to prevent any of these hazards occurring and anything going wrong.

What are the main points of HACCP?

The principle of hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP) consists of the following:

  • Identifying any hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels

  • Identifying the critical control points at the step or steps at which control is essential to prevent or eliminate a hazard or to reduce it to acceptable levels

  • Establishing critical limits at critical points that separate acceptability from unacceptability for the prevention, elimination or reduction of identified hazards

  • Establishing and implementing effective monitoring procedures

  • Establishing corrective actions

  • Reviewing the procedure whenever any modification is made in the product, process, or any step and making changes where necessary¬†

  • Creating documents and records applicable to the nature and size of the food business in order to demonstrate that the above measures have been effectively implemented

Training of Staff

Are there any training requirements specified by the Regulations?

The Food Hygiene Regulations specify that all food handlers are supervised and instructed or trained in food hygiene matters in relation to the work activity which they perform. Furthermore the Regulations state that those responsible for the development and maintenance of the HACCP will have received adequate training in the application of those principles. These persons must also ensure that there is full compliance with any requirements for training programmes for people working in the food sector which are specified by national law.

The safe handling of food

All people who handle food during the course of the business must have received appropriate supervision and be either instructed or trained in food hygiene to ensure that they handle the food safely.

How do I ensure that my staff receives training?

There is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course or to get a formal qualification. Many businesses feel that it is good practice to ensure that their staff does this, however.

There are other ways in which these skills can be obtained such as on-the-job training, self study or prior experience from other jobs or training.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that staff are fully trained?

It is the responsibility of the operator of the food business to ensure that all his staff is adequately trained in food safety.

Is there any other legislation which I should be aware of?

  • There is further legislation in relation to the microbiological criteria for foodstuffs.

  • This legislation has been in place since January 2006 and works alongside the European Union food hygiene legislation.

  • The Microbiological criteria can be used by food businesses in order to verify and validate their food safety management procedures and when assessing the acceptability of foodstuffs, or their manufacturing, handling and distribution processes.

  • Microbiological criteria should be applied within the framework of procedures based on the above HACCP principles.