Food safety legislation applies to all businesses that are involved in the production, handling, transportation and supply of food. These hygiene laws affect caterers, primary producers (such as farmers), manufacturers, distributors and retailers. It requires them to show and prove how food safety is ensured in their company and compels them to produce food that’s safe to eat.
This page will provide you with information and answers to relevant issues and matters relating to current food hygiene regulations. It will do this by telling you what they are and how they should be put into practice.
In simple terms food hygiene regulations require that
- Proprietor’s must ensure that any food they supply or sell is done in a hygienic way.
- Owners should identify food safety hazards.
- Proprietor’s must Identify and be aware of steps in their activities which are critical for food safety.
- Safety controls are in place, maintained and regularly reviewed.
- All food businesses should register with their relevant local authority, 28 days prior to they intent to start trading.
- All food handlers have to be trained, instructed and supervised in food hygiene matters that are relevant to their work.
- In certain circumstances the premises for particular types of food businesses might need to be approved by regulatory bodies or local authorities. For instance meat, eggs, milk and dairy products and fish products.
- A individual who is responsible for the development and maintenance of food safety procedures should have knowledge of related HACCP principles.
The design, structure and layout of premises, and the provision of necessary services, equipment and facilities, must all meet the legal requirements of current legislation and also the industry guidance. It should be noted that regulations not only apply to buildings but also to market stalls, delivery vehicles and other moveable structures. Food premises can be taken to mean;
- Buffet cars on trains
- Delivery vehicles
- Guest houses
- Hot dog and ice cream vans.
- Kitchens in offices
- Market and other stalls
- Staff canteens
PHYSICAL STANDARDS OF PREMISES
The law requires that the layout, design, construction and size of food premises shall allow for effective cleaning. Below are some key points to consider;
This must not include any substances that may add toxic material to food either by direct contact or vapour.
Ceiling and high level surfaces, must not have any finishes that may lead to particles being shed, such as flaking paint, fibres or plaster. They should also be heat, steam and fire resistant as well.
Proprietors should pay particular attention to those places in a food preparation area where steam and humidity are generated in order to avoid the build-up of condensation.
Changing rooms / facilities for staff
Employees who handle food must be provided with a secure place (changing rooms) where they can change from and store their personal clothes and possessions.
- Employees should not have to change in a toilet area or other sanitary convenience.
Delivery of supplies
Procedures should be in place to check the quantity and quality of all supplies received. Look for signs of poor quality such as mouldy or rotten products. All perishables should be labelled and stored immediately to ensure that food remains at safe temperatures and to also to keep an organized kitchen. By labelling all incoming supplies and create a specific shelf-life chart that you can hang in your food preparation area so as to give staff a quick and easy reference when sorting food items.
These must be designed so that they allow all liquid and solid waste to flow away from any food preparation area.
Electrical sockets and switches
There should be a sufficient number of electrical socket outlets, thereby eliminating the need for long cable runs and extension leads. Fittings and switches should not be exposed to water, or set within 2 metres of a wet area, unless they are of the waterproof type.
Floors and walls
Floors should be slip resistant, durable, able to withstand the spillage of hot liquids and impact damage. The same list applies to walls which should also be heat and steam resistant as well.
Food waste and disposal
Refuse must not be unavoidably allowed to build up in areas where food is prepared. Ideally it should be removed at the end of each working day. Internally bins with lids, lined with plastic refuse sacks are acceptable, externally, bulk storage should be in the form of wheeled, covered skips.
Food storage areas
For pest control reason and easy cleaning all food stuff should be stored above floor level. Vegetable and dry goods storage areas should be in a good state of repair and adequately ventilated to provide cool, dry conditions with an air temperature range of 10 to 25 degrees C. You should properly rotate all food items by storing all incoming stock behind those that are already in your refrigeration or storage units.
- Keep all storage areas are clean, sanitary and free from trash or debris.
- Cooked and raw food should be kept separate.
These should be resistant to the formation of mould and be finished in such a way that they do not flake or shred debris.
To ensure safe food handling, proper cleaning and the correct monitoring of standards all food premises must have an adequate and suitable amount of natural or artificial glare free lighting.
If possible catering equipment must be mobile so as to enable appropriate disinfecting and protect against the accumulation of dirt, contact with toxic materials and the formation of condensation or mould on surfaces.
There should have a temperature display on the outside casing as well as an internal thermometer. These readings of both the fridge and freezer should be periodically checked, verified and recorded to ensure the unit is working properly.
Fridge must not be overloaded and its doors should only be opened when necessary.
In any building where food is prepared, cooked and served there must be sufficient space for all the different types of related activities to take place.
A suitable number of flush lavatories must be available for staff. The rule of thumb is one toilet for five employees. To prevent aerosols and offensive odours from getting into food preparation areas, there should be natural or mechanical air ventilation in all conveniences. Toilets must also not lead directly into areas where food is prepared, handled or served.
- All facilities should be in a good state of repair and cleaned daily.
- There should be a sign in the toilet advising staff to wash their hands.
Having a natural or mechanical supply of fresh air is important as it can help to get rid of the build-up of excessive temperatures and stop food from overheating. Ideally you want a system that is able to suck out heat, steam and grease laden fumes through an extract point. Any extraction system must be capable of removing excess heat, steam and odours from cooking processes and refrigeration equipment.
An adequate number of hand wash basins with hot and cold running water must be made available for staff and located in appropriate and convenient places, i.e. close to toilets and food preparation areas. Soap (or similar) and warm hands dryers or paper towels should also be provided. Hot water tap temperature should be 50 – 60 degrees C.
These must be suitable to work on and must be of materials which are smooth, non-toxic, non-tainting and non-reactive to food ingredients.
If possible the use of wood should be avoided, although it may be acceptable for shelves etc as long as the surface is free of imperfections and the wood is sealed with varnish or paint so as to be fully washable.
Anyone preparing food or serving it, must have short and clean nails, and no false nails or nail varnish.
Hands should be washed and dried before any gloves are worn. Once put on a pair of gloves should only be used for one task.
Long hair should be kept back with a hat, hair net or tied back with a ribbon.
Employees who handle cooked foods, soft cheeses and prepared salads, should not travel to and from work wearing their protective clothing, instead they should change into their work clothes on site.
Personal hygiene tips
Staff should not;
- Smoke or use tobacco in the kitchen area.
- Taste any food by dipping a finger in it or using unwashed spoons etc.
- Sneeze or cough over food.
- Have their breaks in rooms where food is being cooked / prepared.
- Work with food when they are have a; cold, skin infection, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, or any other infections.
Although there is no legal requirement for staff to attend a formal training course or get a qualification, many companies still have their employees do so. Staff can obtain the required skills in other ways, such as through on-the-job training, relevant prior experience or self study. You should note that it is the responsibility of the food business owner to ensure this happens.
2006 food hygiene legislation
These regulations which came into effect from 1st January 2006, updated and simplified all previous EU legislation for food business operators. It touches on the following areas;