Training a team? Speak to us on 01943 885085
Last updated: 30.07.19

Food Safety Regulations - catering and hospitality business guidance

What is Food Safety and how does it differ from Food Hygiene?

At a top level, the difference is relatively simple to understand. Food Safety covers all aspects of ensuring that food is safe for a person to eat, whereas Food Hygiene usually more specifically concerns foodborne illnesses, which arise because of primarily bacterial contaminants, but also chemicals and physical hazards. Of course, there is considerable overlap here, and in truth, you will find that many individuals and organisations will use the two terms interchangeably. 

Why is Food Safety important?

Any businesses that handle food have a responsibility to uphold food hygiene standards and adhere to food safety and hygiene regulations set up by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) which aim to help consumers trust the food products they buy by establishing these standards. Businesses of all sizes, from small cafés to bigger catering companies, will need to follow these regulations and implement the necessary procedures to ensure their services are up to scratch.

Prevent cross-contamination

One of the most common causes for food poisoning is cross-contamination – an instance of harmful bacteria being transferred onto food from contaminated ingredients, equipment or surfaces. Ingredients such as raw meat, fish, unwashed vegetables and eggs are common culprits for cross-contamination. Ensuring staff use the appropriate handling methods and keep on top of cleaning duties will help reduce the risk of cross-contamination within the kitchen, as well as being aware of other forms of contamination like physical contamination, chemical contamination and cross-contamination from allergens.

Click here to get the latest Virtual College resources

Keep things sparkling cleaning

By imposing rigorous cleaning standards within a catering environment, you can greatly reduce the risk of cross-contamination and remove harmful bacteria from the food preparation areas. It also removes traces of potential allergens which can trigger allergic reactions, even in small amounts. Cleaning also include hygiene standards for staff, like washing hands properly to prevent bacteria from outside the kitchen reaching any ingredients or equipment.

Chill food and defrost dishes correctly

There are a number of foods that we know need to be chilled in order to prevent spoilage due to bacteria growth. Refrigerating certain foods helps keep them fresher for longer, like cooked meats, cheeses and desserts, so storing them appropriately and keeping to their ‘use by’ date will prevent bacteria from becoming a problem. Correctly chilling down food for storage or defrosting for use also minimises the opportunity for bacteria to grow, so following the right procedures will help prevent unexpected spoilage.

Get the latest industry insights from our food and drink experts and find out how Virtual College can help your business. Click Here

Cook all food thoroughly

Proper cooking of any and all dishes is essential for killing off any harmful bacteria which may be present. If something isn’t piping hot after cooking, it runs the risk of being unsafe as an area of the food may still harbour dangerous bacteria. Any dishes which are ready-to-eat and don’t require heating should be handled with extra care as they won’t go through the cooking process. There are also guidelines around reheating food as dishes which have been reheated can carry additional risks.

Management checks

Outside of the hands-on aspects of food safety regulations, a degree of oversight from management is required to ensure that the correct information is being logged to prevent unsafe food practices and that certain elements are checked upon opening and closing to reduce the risk of creating contamination hazards. This includes keeping up-to-date allergen information on all dishes sold, having an awareness of any products which have been recalled by suppliers, and more general day-to-day aspects like waste disposal, clean uniform standards and fresh equipment (clothes, gloves, etc.) where relevant.

Click here to view our Level 3 Food Hygiene training course, designed for managers and supervisor in a wide range of industries.

Keeping a diary

Effective record keeping is the key to running a successful business, and diarising your cleaning schedule along with all your open and close checks, 4-weekly reviews, staff training records and supplier lists. By having all this information on site in an easy to access location, you will have everything on hand to prove that you’re adhering to the highest possible food safety regulations in the case of an inspection. It will also help highlight problem areas if anything is being missed, as well as highlighting accountability.

We have many great resources to help make sure you maintain high food safety standards, such as our food premises self-inspection checklist, our HACCP cleaning schedule as well as an infographic on how to store food safely

Top Food Hygiene FAQs


Can I make and sell food from home?

Yes, as long as your kitchen meets the necessary hygiene requirements and you have a food hygiene certificate. You can use your home as a base for making and selling food as long as you register your home with your local authority and let them know you intend to use your home as business premises.

Do food hygiene certificates expire?

While food hygiene certificates do not have an expiry date, it is recommended that you renew it every three years.

Do I need a food hygiene certificate to give food away?

No, a food hygiene certificate is only required if you intend to sell food. However, if you plan to give away food to family, friends or charity events, good hygiene levels must be maintained.

Click here to visit our full FAQ Hub

If you’re looking to learn more about food safety regulations and how to best set your catering or hospitality business in line with the guidance set out by the Food Standards Agency, then take a look at our Level 2 Food Hygiene course. It covers everything you’ll need to know to best set up your business, and the course can be completed at your own pace to fit in with your own schedule.


Related resources