An estimated five million people suffer from food poisoning in England and Wales each year. Running a food business means that you have a particular responsibility in protecting the health of your customers.
The main food hygiene legislation that applies in the UK is:
These replace the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and the Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995. They set out the basic hygiene requirements for all aspects of a food business including the responsibilities of food business operators to produce food safely.
Almost all of the requirements in the new regulations are the same as the regulations they replace. The main new requirement is that food business operators must put in place, implement and maintain a Food Safety Management System, or procedures, based on the HACCP principles. The legislation is structured this way so that it can be applied flexibly in all food businesses regardless of their type or size.
Control of Cross Contamination
The Food Standards Agency has recently published guidance on the control of cross contamination in businesses which handle raw and ready to eat foods. The attached documents provide guidance on compliance with applicable food hygiene legislation contained in Regulation (EC) No 852/2004.
The only reliable way to prevent cross contamination of ready-to-eat foods with E coli O157 is through strict physical separation of clean environments, where ready-to-eat foods are handled and stored separate to any other surfaces or equipment that are not designated for use in the clean area. This will require the use of separate equipment and utensils. Complex equipment such as vacuum packers, slicers and mincing machines should never be used for both raw and ready-to-eat foods and separate machines should be provided.
Adequate separation requires thorough consideration of everything used in a clean area, including packaging, cleaning materials, weighing scales, cash registers, aprons, gloves, pens etc. If these are overlooked then contamination can enter the clean area and spread without any way of detecting it or controlling the surfaces affected.
Food business operators must ensure that critical cross-contamination controls are implemented at all times. If a breakdown in procedure is detected, it must be considered a serious incident and the food business operator must take immediate steps to ensure that no food placed at risk from E coli O157 cross-contamination is supplied for consumption. Effective action must also be taken in respect of any product that has already been placed on the market.
E Coli Control of Cross-contamination: Guidance for food business operators and enforcement authorities (PDF 340kb)
E. coli O157:An invisible threat to your business (PDF 138kb)
Visit our Food safety management page for further information or download a copy of the Food Standard Agency's Food Hygiene: A Guide for Businesses.