Dealing with food hygiene

Background

The latest regulations came into force on 1 January 2006. Their aim is to ensure common food hygiene across the European Community as set out in the Food Hygiene Directive.

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. They 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.

This is true whether you sell publicly or privately, in a hotel or in a marquee, for profit or for fund-raising. 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:

preparation, processing, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, handling, packaging, storage, selling, supplying

Generally, anyone who handles food, or whose actions could affect its safety, must follow the Regulations. This includes people who sell food (whether to retailers or the public) and anyone who cleans articles or equipment which come into contact with food.

How does it affect my group?

It is expected that most food being provided at a group event will have been prepared elsewhere, in which case many of the regulations do not apply, but the following should be noted:

  • People handling food should maintain a high level of personal hygiene.
  • All reasonable, practical steps should be taken to avoid the risk of contamination of food.
  • Any equipment and surfaces coming into contact with food must be kept clean.
  • Waste should be dealt with sensibly and not be allowed to gather near food.
  • No one suffering from or a carrier of a disease which could be transmitted through food should work in a food handling area.
  • Appropriate containers should be used for storing and transporting food, to avoid the risk of contamination.

If your group is providing food and drink at an event it could be held legally liable for contaminated items. Your group’s insurance will in all probability protect you, but it is advisable to check the condition of the food and drink before it is served. 

Further information

For more information about the Food & Hygiene Regulations contact your local council’s Environmental Health Services. You may also like to consider the following publications:

The Food Hygiene Regulations 2005. Ref: SI 2005 No. 2059. 
These are obtainable from The Stationery Office PO Box 29 Norwich NR3 1GN. Tel: 0870 600 5522. They can also be read online.

Food Standards Agency

The prime guardian of food hygiene is the Food Standards Agency.
Tel: 020 7276 8829
email: helpline@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

There are a number of general guidance documents available on the FSA website, or by calling them on the above number including one designed specifically for community and voluntary groups.


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