As what we consume undergoes more processes, from importation through to transportation and modern cooking techniques, aspects like traceability, correct identification of ingredients, and dating and labelling stored goods are key when it comes to keeping every customer safe.
Here we explore those all-important rules and procedures that food businesses must adhere to by law.
Which regulations apply to food hygiene at restaurants in the UK?
The Food Safety Act was passed in 1990 and is an important part of environmental law with which all food businesses in the UK must comply.
It was introduced to ensure that people were not misled by false advertising, essentially so that consumers can be assured that what they eat is what a restaurateur says it is.
There are also guidelines on how to run a kitchen, and of course there’s that all-important hygiene rating that can signal success or failure to a restaurant business.
The impact the food industry can have on people’s health is embedded in the legislation and the main aim of the act is to ensure that people don’t eat anything that will be harmful.
That means any business involved with food, whether preparing it, labelling it, storing it, transporting it, or selling it needs to understand what is required of them.
There are food hygiene regulations for restaurants and these requirements must be followed rigorously.
What are the legislative requirements?
Under the Food Safety Act (1990), food hygiene regulations for restaurants stipulate that a business must not:
- Cause food to be dangerous to health
- Sell food that is not what the customer is entitled to expect in terms of content or quality; and
- Describe or present food in a way that is false or misleading
These regulations make it necessary for all food businesses to implement food safety management procedures based on Hard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) techniques:
- Identify points in those operations where food hazards may occur
- Decide which points identified are critical to ensure food safety
- Identify and implement effective control and monitoring procedures at critical control points (CCPs)
- Make a periodic review and analysis of food hazards, CCPs, and control and monitoring procedures, and also when there is an operational change
Basic overview of the regulations (and what UK restaurants are required to do by law)
Make sure that food is safe to eat. A restaurant needs to show that it has done all it can to prevent food from being harmful.
There are areas where food hygiene regulations for restaurants apply. They include:
This means storing foods separately so that they don’t come into contact with each other. It is important raw foods don’t contaminate cooked foods and that allergens are identified.
To keep your food allergic customers safe, you must follow the allergen information rules by:
- Providing accurate allergen information
- Handling and managing food allergens adequately in the kitchen
Food businesses and handlers must ensure their practices minimise the risk of harm to the consumer.
Part of complying with food safety is managing food hygiene and food standards to make sure that the food you serve is safe to eat.
Foodstuffs need to be kept at the correct temperatures to ensure that they don’t develop bacteria.
Food also needs to be thoroughly heated to ensure that harmful bacteria is not present.
Meat must be cooked thoroughly as harmful bacteria could be present and cause illness. Chicken is notorious for causing food poisoning, but any type of poultry, duck or other types of fowl should be heated completely.
The same goes for pork, rolled joints of meat, products like kebabs, burgers and sausages made from minced meat and kidneys, liver, and other types of offal.
Kitchen staff should be aware of this and check that meats are steaming hot throughout, that juices run clear and there is no pink or rare meat inside. Reheating food properly will kill the harmful bacteria that may have multiplied in the meantime. Food should only be reheated once.
Food safety management is about complying with food hygiene and food standards. You must ensure that you have food safety management procedures in place. You also need to consider:
- The suppliers you use
- How you trace the food you buy, and the food you sell to other businesses
- How you transport food
Using a diary
Restaurants need to keep a diary for presentation to the local authority’s food safety officer.
How to manage food safety
- Ensure that food isn’t treated and nothing is added or removed to make it harmful to eat
- Make sure the food is the quality as stated
- That it is not advertised or marketed as something it isn’t
- That if food is found to be unsafe it is withdrawn, and an incident report is made
- Keep record on where the food is from so that you can easily produce documents for purposes of traceability
- Display your food hygiene rating
Materials and packaging that can be reasonably expected to come into contact with food are called ‘food contact materials’. These can include:
- food processing equipment
- work surfaces
To keep food safe for consumption:
- Make sure food contact materials don’t transfer anything to food they touch
- Make sure food contact materials don’t change the food they touch
- When inspected, be able to show where the food contact materials came from
Bacteria and food poisoning
To keep food safe from bacteria, you should follow HACCP. Bacteria that cause serious health problems are:
- Coli O157 and campylobacter
- salmonella, particularly related to the storage and handling of eggs
Food hygiene training
Employers are responsible for staff hygiene training. It can be either a formal programme or informal training, such as on the job training or self-study.
If you are a restaurateur, you need to manage food allergies when preparing and selling food.
What happens if these regulations are not adhered to?
If a restaurant does not adhere to food hygiene regulations the consequences can be severe.
Your customers could get food poisoning which in some cases could be highly dangerous or indeed fatal.
You can be fined for food safety offences and if accused of several breaches of food safety laws this amount could be quite sizeable.
The court can also impose a prison sentence of up to two years on the responsible person(s).
At Venturepak, we want to help restaurants keep their customers safe.
We understand the importance of the correct food packaging and what is appropriate for different products as well as how to create systems to ensure that food isn’t left to go bad or becomes contaminated. So why not contact us today and take a look at our packaging range?