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Last updated: 29.08.17

Food legislation: General regulations 2004

Food handlers are required to follow a number of regulations to ensure both consumers and employers are safe. Here we take a look at some of the more general legislation.

Working in a food business, whether it be directly dealing and handling food or perhaps working within management, means abiding by the law. Just like any other sector, there are a number of general regulations within the food industry that must be followed to ensure that both consumers and employers are as safe as possible.

In particular, food handlers should be familiar with the General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002. This is directly applicable EU legislation and provides the general principles of food safety including:

  • The requirement on food businesses to place safe food on the market
  • The traceability of food
  • The presentation of food
  • The withdrawal or recall of unsafe food placed on the market
  • That relating to imported and exported foods.

Further to this, the Food Safety Act 1990 provides food handlers with the framework for all food legislation in the UK.

What are The General Food Regulations 2004?

In Scotland and Wales, The General Food Regulations 2004 provides for the enforcement of certain provisions of Regulation (EC) and amended Food Safety Act 1990.

This regulation outlines criminal offences for breaches of certain food laws, laying down penalties including fines and imprisonment.

More specifically, this legislation covers the hygiene of foodstuffs and sets out general hygiene requirements for all food businesses. It also includes rules for official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption and those performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare.

According to the government, businesses that undertake activities to which only The General Food Regulation 2004 applies to, usually, only need to be registered.

How do they affect businesses?

It is crucial that businesses adhere to this legislation as a failure to do so could lead to fines (that may cause smaller businesses to go bankrupt), or in extreme cases imprisonment. However, this isn’t the only concern for businesses. The safety of staff and consumers should be the main point of focus for employers, as a failure to comply with regulation could cause significant injury and even death.

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