This page is a guide and introduction to the European Union laws that were introduced to the UK from the 1st of January 2006. This legislation is aimed at bringing up to date, combining and simplifying all the past EU food hygiene laws and regulations. It places an obligation on all food businesses to make sure that their activities are carried out in a hygienic way, and makes it an offence to supply food which is unsafe to be consumed and harmful to human health.
Essentially all proprietors should ensure that an appropriate level of public health protection is in place. They must do this by identifying food safety hazards and risks relevant to their business, and by putting in place control measures to prevent problems. How the legislation affects an organisation really depends on its size and the type of business.
This legislation applies right across the food chain, from primary production and sale or supply to the final consumer (from ‘farm to fork’). Indeed it has to, if it is to achieve its main aim of preventing illness resulting from food and waterborne diseases.
A summary of the legislation;
The way in which you achieve the following points depends on the individual setting. Whichever policy you have, it should firstly include a written statement that outlines your food safety procedures, and secondly be reviewed at regular intervals. You should always bear in mind that it has been developed to encourage businesses put in place food safety management procedures, and to comply with food hygiene regulations. Below is a summary of all the key points;
- Applies to all products of animal origin intended for human consumption.
- Food must be traceable from farm to fork.
- Controls (the methods you use to ensure food safety is maintained) should be effective and proportionate.
- Requires businesses to document their arrangements for ensuring the safety of their food.
- Food producing businesses have to be registered with the relevant authorities.
- Companies are required to have in place, practise and maintain procedures based on HACCP principles. These processes must be reviewed if new products are produced or working procedures change.
- The legislation is flexibly structured so that it can be applied appropriately to different industries.
- Food must be correctly labelled and described and meet relevant quality standards.
- Business owners must ensure that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and / or trained in food hygiene matters relevant to their roles.
Who does the legislation apply to
It applies to everyone who works in the food business, from owners and managers right through to food handling staff. Businesses can range from a supermarket, cafe, pub, mobile food stall, exclusive restaurant, right through to a school dining area. All sectors are covered including; caterers, primary producers (such as farmers), manufacturers, distributors and retailers. It relates to public or private organisations involved in any of the following activities;
- preparation of food
- processing of food
- manufacture of food
- packaging of food
- storage of food
- transportation/distribution of food
- handling of food
- offering food for sale.
Under the 2006 legislation all food businesses are required to have a written food safety system in place based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.
The benefits to businesses of the food hygiene regulations 2006
As it is enforced by regulatory bodies, it can protect food businesses from the commercial disadvantage caused by their competitors who may not be complying with current Food Safety legislation. Other benefits include;
- Can ensure that the food you sell/supply is safe to consume.
- Helps to reduce the risk of food poisoning and food complaints.
- Can enhance a business’s reputation.
- Gives consumer’s more confidence in your food.
- In the event of any legal action against your company, it can demonstrate compliance with the law (due diligence), by your company.
The 2006 legislation and basic requirements for premises
The regulations apply to the following areas of any building where food is prepared or served;
- Sanitary & hand washing facilities
- Staff training
- Washing of food
- Waste storage and disposal
- Water supply
- Work surfaces
Premises should be;
- Clean and kept in good repair.
- Designed and constructed so as to allow good hygiene practices.
- Adequately supplied with potable drinking water.
- Provided with adequate drainage.
- Reasonably protected against pests.
Premises should have;
- A sufficient amount of natural or mechanical air ventilation.
- provide clean lavatories which do not lead directly into food rooms;
- Suitable hand-washing facilities.
- Sufficient natural or artificial lighting.
- adequate facilities for the storage and removal of food waste.