Here at Hawk Safety, we have covered many food safety related topics over the last few months however one subject we haven’t yet touched on is food law – and this one’s a big one! Everyone working with food and drink, even those that may only come in contact occasionally (such as cleaners), have an obligation and duty to make sure the safety and protection of food is always put first.
The Food Safety Act 1990 is the most notable of legislature as it outlines all safety regulations in regards to food and drink. As stated by the Food Standards Agency, the essential points for all businesses to abide by include making sure food is not contaminated, and is treated in such a way that would not cause damaging effects to the people eating it. The food sold must be of a high enough quality that consumers would expect and it must not be misleading through advertising, labelling or presentation.
If you are the manager of a business you may be asking yourself what legal responsibilities you have. The first is ensuring that your premises are registered with the local authority. Your place of work must be maintained and operating in a way that prevents food contamination. There must be suitable washing facilities and all your staff must be trained to follow correct food safety procedures. See our past blog ‘Why improving your Personal Hygiene is important for Food Safety’ for further information.
It is a requirement by law that all businesses handling food must have one of the following:
- HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) system
- FSMA (Food Safety Management System)
- FSP (Food Safety Policy)
These systems are used to assess food safety hazards and consist of making sure each stage of the food storage and preparation cycle is covered and accounted for. The Food Standards Agency have produced a variety of media packs which are specifically catered to business operators in the food industry. This allows businesses to manage their safety processes and comply with food hygiene regulations. The Safer Food, Better Business pack is just one of many that are followed every day by businesses.
Having a good system in place can give you protection over three areas. As we’ve seen, it can strengthen your food safety measures but it can also safeguard you in the event of an unexpected EHO visit and provide proof of due diligence if an accusation is made against your company. EHO’s have the power to close food establishments immediately if they deem the premises to be unfit for practice. They can even take a business to court if food safety laws have been breached. This means one thing – make sure you are keeping an eye on all of your procedures!
It is always crucial to keep your records organised. Without them it is very hard to prove that the business was operating safely in the occurrence of an incident. An example of where this system was not in place was the case of Mitchells and Butlers, one of the largest pub groups in the country, who were fined £1.5 million for their role in the death of a customer who came for Christmas dinner. They could not provide supporting evidence stating they were not to blame and subsequently, this resulted buy xanax in two members of staff being jailed for a combined sentence of three years.
It is clear to see that there are a range of benefits that come from adhering to food legislature. Not only does it reduce the risk of dangers to staff and customers but also gives peace of mind that the company is not in jeopardy of prosecution. If you’re looking for more information on how to refine your HACCP system, why not check out our blog entry on the ‘7 Principles you need to know about HACCP’.
Are you curious about another food safety topic that hasn’t yet been covered by Hawk Safety? Send us comment below or get in contact and we’ll get a post up with all the details.