Identifying and controlling food hazards
Food business operators must have in place a food safety management system based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points Principles (HACCP) and have appropriate documents and records. This will allow you to demonstrate that you have identified food safety hazards and are managing food safety in your business.
As the proprietor of a food business, you must:
- make sure food is supplied or sold in a hygienic way;
- identify food safety hazards;
- know which steps in your activities are critical for food safety;
- ensure safety controls are in place, maintained and reviewed.
It is for you to determine the type of food safety management system you wish to operate in your business. One example of a simple system for small catering businesses is Safer Food Better Business (SFBB). SFBB has been developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in partnership with small catering businesses and local authorities. There is also a version of SFBB for small retail businesses.
You can obtain a free pack via the FSA website, or by telephoning: 0845 606 0667. Packs adapted for Chinese & Asian cuisines are also available.
Of course, you may already be operating a good food safety management system and there may be no need to change this. When your business is inspected the officer will spend time discussing your food handling procedures, the safety controls and any documents or records you may already have in place.
The leaflet Food hygiene - a guide for businesses (306KB) contains a useful summary of the legal requirements.
What are the regulations?
The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 and Regulation (EC) No. 852/ 2004
Who is affected?
Anyone who owns, manages or works in a food business, apart from those working in primary food production such as harvesting, slaughtering or milking, is affected by these Regulations. The Regulations apply to anything from a hot dog van to a five star restaurant, from a village hall where food is prepared to a large supermarket, or to a vending machine. They apply whether you sell publicly or privately, in a hotel or in a marquee, for profit or for fundraising. The Regulations do not apply to food cooked at home for private consumption. Every process which deals with preparing or selling food can be classed as a food business activity, including:
Generally, anyone who handles food as part of a food business must follow the Regulations. This includes people who sell food (whether to retailers or to the public) and anyone who cleans articles or equipment which come into contact with food.
What do they cover?
The Regulations apply to all types of food and drink and their ingredients. But some businesses, generally manufacturers of products of animal origin such as dairies or wholesale fish markets, follow their own product specific regulations.
The regulations set requirements about:
- Cleaning and maintenance of food premises,
- Layout, design, construction, siting and size of food premises,
- Requirements for moveable and/or transportable premises,
- Rooms used for preparing and processing of foods,
- Transporting of foodstuffs,
- Equipment requirements,
- Food waste,
- Water supply,
- Personal hygiene,
- Preventing contamination,
- Wrapping and packaging of food, Training.
Basic requirements for all food businesses require that they:
- be clean and maintained in good repair,
- be designed and constructed to permit good hygiene practices,
- have an adequate supply of potable (drinking) water,
- have suitable controls in place to protect against pests,
- have adequate natural and/or artificial lighting,
- have sufficient natural and/or mechanical ventilation,
- provide clean lavatories which do not lead directly into food rooms,
- have adequate hand washing facilities,
- be provided with adequate drainage.
Rooms where food is prepared, treated or processed should generally have surface finishes which are easy to clean, and where necessary, disinfect. This would, for instance, apply to wall, floor and equipment finishes. The rooms should also have:
- adequate facilities for washing food and equipment,
- adequate facilities for the storage and removal of food waste.
Of course, many of the Regulations are basic minimum hygiene standards which apply to every food business. But how they are applied still depends on the situation. For example, every food premises must be kept clean. But how they are cleaned, and how often, will be different for a manufacturer of ready-to-eat meals than for a bakery selling bread.
Times are displayed in a 24 hour format.