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Food Hygiene: What are the rules?

schedule 4 months, 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Emma Brook in Food Hygiene

Food hygiene: what are the rules?

What is food hygiene?

Any business that produces or sells food in the UK is required by law to follow food safety regulations. These regulations, appropriate to food hygiene courses, are designed to provide guidance and rules for everything from farms to butchers to restaurants that deal with food, ensuring that what we eat is safe to consume.

Naturally, it’s important for businesses to put these regulations into practice if they want to be successful and keep their customers coming back. You’ll probably have noticed the food hygiene rating posters displayed in cafés and takeaways, and a less than perfect rating can easily make customers think twice about eating there.

Employees who handle food should be trained in food safety, sanitation, and personal hygiene.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA)

This is the government agency that issues food safety ratings and ensures businesses know the rules. It was set up by the government but acts independently to enforce and promote food safety and good standards.

Wales and Northern Ireland also have their own branches of the FSA, and in Scotland, food safety is enforced by Food Standards Scotland.

Read more about the introduction of standardisation of food safety.

Food Safety Regulations in Britain

The Food Safety Act 1990

The Food Safety Act 1990 determined the rules around making food safe, making it a criminal offense to make or produce food in such a way as to cause harm if it’s being sold for human consumption. This covers adding or taking away ingredients or components, as well as any way the food is treated or processed. It also sets out how consumers should expect a reasonable level of quality, and how food must be described and presented clearly in terms of its ingredients and preparation.

These laws were added to in 1995 to include the whole food chain, starting with the farm, ensuring any food preparation premises are registered with local authorities so that they can be inspected for proper standards and procedures.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 was introduced to ensure food preparation premises were safe, and that machinery is kept clean and well-maintained. It also stated that employees who handle food should be trained in food safety, sanitation, and personal hygiene.

It’s important for employers to be familiar with these regulations and implement them properly so as to avoid penalties, and, of course, ensure their customers are getting the best standards of food preparation and hygiene.

It’s important for employers to be familiar with these regulations and implement them properly so as to avoid penalties, and, of course, ensure their customers are getting the best standards of food preparation and hygiene.

General Food Law Regulations

2002 saw the introduction of EU-wide laws on food imports and exports, the General Food Law Regulations. These were designed to make sure any food imported to or exported from the EU complies with EU regulations on safety and hygiene. These laws also covered the labelling and advertising of food, and that it should never be misleading to customers.

This legislation also introduced measures for tracing the food production chain, so information can always be found on where food has come from. It also introduced rules for recalling food products and notifying customers if there is an issue.

Legislation in 2004 and 2013 provided the penalties for breaking food safety law, which include up to two years in prison and/or a fine.

It’s important for employers to be familiar with these regulations and implement them properly so as to avoid penalties, and, of course, ensure their customers are getting the best standards of food preparation and hygiene. It’s also important as they are liable if there’s a problem with something sold and the staff member doing the actual selling wasn’t responsible.

The good news?

Employees and staff can achieve a food hygiene certificate by completing a course that will help their business maintain the standards required.

Take a look at the available online training to discover which food hygiene course is best suited to your needs. Information includes details of accreditation, content and duration of the course, who it’s intended for and entry requirements.


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Emma Brook - Virtual College

Author: Emma Brook

Emma works in the marketing design team at Virtual College and works on a variety of print and digital design projects. In her spare time she enjoys going to gigs and the theatre.

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