Last updated: 16.07.19

Food Hygiene - Food Handler’s Responsibilities

Food Hygiene Safety – Food Handler’s Responsibilities

Any business which operates within the catering industry or hospitality industry has a duty to its customers that they will ensure that all food served is safe, with measures in place to uphold high food safety standards. Staff which come into contact with food as a part of their day-to-day duties, whether that’s chefs, servers or other kitchen staff, will have several responsibilities which they need to be mindful of as they carry out their jobs. These responsibilities are outlined by Food Standards Agency, an independent government branch which aims to protect consumers’ health and interests, which we’ve summarised the major points below.


Food safety in the kitchen

The primary point of any food handler’s responsibilities is in the kitchen, and with that comes making sure all safety standards which have been set by the FSA are followed. Following the bespoke HACCP related procedures which have been established by the business is crucial for ensuring food handlers are doing everything feasible possible to keep food produced in the kitchen safe. This includes:

  • Keeping the kitchen clean to avoid any form of cross-contamination
  • Using correct handling procedures to minimise the risk of bacteria transfer
  • Following cooking and reheating guidelines
  • Establish a diary of cleaning rotas, open and close checks and other relevant records
  • Chill down and defrost any dishes using safe methods

By using the guidance laid out by the Food Standards Agency on safer food, you will minimise the risks around food safety and help protect your business from any negative repercussions. Accountability and responsibility within a business are key for preventing problems within the food industry, so ensuring all staff members are informed on the proper procedures and duties of their role will help to keep everyone safe.

Looking for online Level 2 Food Hygiene training? Click here and check out our courses.

Cleanliness and personal hygiene

Although keeping the kitchen clean will help to avoid dangerous bacteria from coming in contact with food, staff members also have a responsibility to keep themselves clean and exercise good hygiene practises.

Hand washing

The biggest part of this is thoroughly washing hands whenever staff are required to handle food, especially when it involves raw meat and fish as staff will need to wash their hands after handling these ingredients to avoid cross-contamination. This helps to kill any bacteria that food handlers may have picked up outside of the kitchen, as well as any viruses, moulds and parasites.

Personal hygiene comes into play here as well, with clean clothing needing to be worn and hair tied up or covered in a hair net. Any cuts should be covered in a waterproof covering in a bright colour in the event it comes off as it will be easier to see.

Staff illness

If a food handler falls ill, they have a responsibility to report this to their supervisor immediately in order to figure out the best course of action. The FSA Fitness to Work guidelines detail the legal requirements around illness, which states that ‘no person suffering from, or being a carrier of, a disease which is likely to be transmitted through food…is to be permitted to handle food or enter any food-handling area in any capacity’. This is especially relevant when there are symptoms which are indicative of foodborne illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and sore throat. As a further rule, there should be no blowing, coughing or sneezing in the vicinity of food, as this also runs the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria.

Top Food Hygiene FAQs

What is food hygiene and what is food safety?

Food hygiene and food safety refer to the steps food handlers need to take to make sure food is processed, stored, distributed, transported and prepared without any risk to consumers' health.

Who is responsible for food safety?

Food handlers and food businesses are responsible for the safety of the food that they provide to consumers. Their responsibilities include ensuring food is safe for consumption, and that its quality meets expectations. Food also needs to be labelled and advertised in a way that is not misleading, especially where allergies and intolerances are concerned

Why is food hygiene important?

If food is not prepared in a hygienic way, it may be unsafe for consumption and could increase the risk of foodborne illnesses. Good food hygiene is important for your business and its reputation, as well as the health of your customers. It's therefore vital to ensure all staff have received food hygiene training.

Why is food safety important?

A thorough understanding of food safety is essential for food handlers to demonstrate food hygiene best practice, to prevent risk of contamination or foodborne illnesses.

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Food Hygiene Legislation

What is the Food Safety Act 1990?

The safety of food should be a main concern for food businesses. In today’s world, consumers deserve to have confidence that food they are served is what they expect and won’t cause them any harm, as well as know they are protected from fraud.

While food legislation affects people across the country, it is those working in production, processing, storage, distribution and sale of food that the Food Safety Act 1990 particularly applies and is relevant to.

What are my main responsibilities?

Under the Food Safety Act 1990, businesses have three main responsibilities, which are:

  1. Ensuring you do not include or remove anything from food or treat food in a way that means it would be damaging to the health of those eating it.
  2. Ensuring that food served or sold is of the nature, substance or quality of which consumers would expect.
  3. Ensuring food is labelled, advertised and presented in a way that isn’t false or misleading to others

Want more information on Food Hygiene Legislation? Click Here to read our guide on food legislation.

If you’re looking to train your staff on the importance of their responsibilities within the food industry and how their role plays a key part in keeping consumers safe, Virtual College offer an e-learning Level 1 Food Safety and Hygiene course which covers these points and more. This course contains information on why food safety is important, potential food safety hazards and how to control them, all of which can be learned at a pace to suit each individual staff member.

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