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The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006

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The Food Hygiene Regulations (2006) set the legal obligations that are on all food-related businesses to ensure food that they prepare and serve is done so in a safe and hygienic manner. The regulations make it an offence for businesses to supply food which is not safe to be eaten and is potentially harmful to the health of customers.

According to the Food Hygiene Regulations all businesses have a duty of care to make sure food is prepared and stored hygienically, and a breach of this duty is likely to lead to negligence claims like food poisoning compensation claims.

What types of business are affected by the Food Hygiene Regulations (2006)

All businesses that are involved with any of the processes of preparing or selling food are bound by the Food Hygiene Regulations – from food manufacturing (e.g. handling, preparing, processing, packaging etc..) to distribution (storage, transport, supplying and selling).

The regulations are supported by European Regulation 852/2004 and affect anyone who owns, manages or works in a business involved with the manufacture and/or distribution of food – whether it’s a catering business, restaurant, cafe, corner shop, supermarket, vending machine stockist or anything else dealing with food.

What should food businesses do?

In order to abide by the regulations and make sure that the right level of hygiene and public health protection is applied a food business must be able to identify any and every potential food safety risk and hazard that is relevant to their specific business, and then put measure in place to make sure these risks are mitigated.

In general terms, this means putting in place procedures that are based on the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critcial Control Point) method, which should be reviewed regularly e.g. when an working procedures change or when new products are made.

As all food businesses are different there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to food safety. Each business is responsible for assessing the risks relevant to them and putting the appropriate measures in place. For example, a business that handles ‘high risk’ food such as raw poultry should have effective measures in place to control the risk of bacterial contamination. Such measures may not be needed by a business focused on lower risk food like bread.

Some standard rules that apply to most food businesses are:

  • Any raw materials or ingredients that could render food unfit for human consumption should be rejected.
  • Food must always be labelled correctly and should meet all the relevant quality standards.
  • Owners of food businesses must  make sure sure that all employees that handle food are fully trained in respect to food hygiene
  • Also, all food producing businesses must register with the relevant authorities.

 

As well as the above, food premises should always…

  • be clean and well maintained
  • be designed and constructed in a way that permits good hygiene
  • have adequate facilities for hand washing
  • have an adequate supply of drinking water
  • have suitable pest control measures
  • have adequate lighting
  • have adequate ventilation;
  • provide clean toilets which do not lead directly into rooms used for food storage or preparation
  • have adequate drainage.

 

It is also a requirement that all food preparation areas should have surface finishes which are easy to clean, and where necessary, disinfect. This includes equipment, work surfaces, floors and walls.

The rooms should also have adequate facilities to wash food and equipment, and to store and remove food waste.

How should food handlers be trained?

Every food business is responsible for deciding the level of training and/or supervision their staff requires in terms of food hygiene – which should be based on the job roles of each employee.

In general, all food handlers should display a high degree of personal and professional hygiene, and wear clean clothing. If they have to move between high and low risk food preparation areas then provision should be made to enable them to change clothes if necessary.

Good personal hygiene practices for food handlers typically include:

  • Regularly washing their hands when handling food
  • Making sure hair is covered and, if necessary, tied back

 

Food handlers should also report any ailments or illnesses such as diarrhoea, vomiting, infected wounds and skin infections to management as soon as possible. Any food handlers with symptoms like vomiting or diarrhoea should stay away from their place of work for 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.

What happens if a business ignores the regulations?

If a food business is unable to demonstrate that they are compliant with the Food Hygiene Regulations (2006) then the business could be liable to pay compensation to any customers who suffer an illness after consuming food or drink produced or handled by the business.

If you think you have contracted an illness because of the negligence of a food business and would like to discuss your options with a specialist solicitors, get in touch with CL Legal today…

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