Whether you’re moving into a more senior role in the food industry, or you’re in the process of starting your own business, you’re probably well aware that there are fairly extensive laws pertaining to food safety and hygiene in the UK that you need to be aware of.
These laws have been introduced to ensure that we can enjoy a very high standard of food in this country, to reduce foodborne illnesses and to help consumers across the country make informed and confident choices about the food that they buy and eat.
For those unfamiliar with UK food safety and hygiene legislation, the laws and regulations in place are quite extensive, and can therefore be overwhelming. If you alreadyown a food business, you may already know of a number of key regulations, including the Food Standards Act 1999 and the Food Safety Act 1990.
Whilst there are a range of food-related regulations that food business owners need to be aware of, there’s one particular instrument that plays an important role in the food safety legislation of England, and that is the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
For those who are unfamiliar with this statutory instrument, or who need to refresh their knowledge of it, in this article, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 to help you understand exactly what it is and why it is important to your business.
The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 was enforced on the 31st of December 2013, and it is a statutory instrument that combines the provisions for food safety and food hygiene. This set of regulations is important in giving power to national and local authorities throughout England so that they can continue to have a major role in ensuring that the food being sold to consumers of food businesses is safe.
There are a couple of important things to be aware of about these regulations. The first is that they are, as the name suggests, only applicable to England. Similar laws do cover Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but each country handles food legislation in different ways.
The second is that these regulations were placed into law as a result of EU Hygiene Regulations, specifically Regulation 178/2002. Regardless of the UK’s exit from the EU in January 2020, all EU legislation that was already in effect before this time has remained unchanged and will continue in place.
Regulation 178/2002, mentioned above, has three main points, which are also three of the most important concepts of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013. These concepts are as follows:
In line with this, the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013 put in place strict guidelines and standards to which food businesses must adhere. These are the key requirements and considerations that business owners must take into account to abide by English food legislation and keep their consumers safe.
These Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013 key requirements are as follows:
The purpose of food safety legislation in England is to ensure that consumers' health and wellbeing are protected. This is the main aim of all individual food safety legislative pieces and wider food safety statutory instruments, such as the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Without food safety legislation in place in England, consumers throughout the country would not have the confidence that the food they choose to consume is safe. Food safety legislation holds all stages of the food supply chain accountable to strict standards to promote their integrity and protect public health.
Without doing this, the reputation of food manufacturers and businesses’ reputations throughout the country would be negatively affected, and it’s likely that foodborne illnesses would increase among the public.
Therefore, the role of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 is to protect public health and ensure that high food safety standards outlined in food hygiene regulations are continuously met for the benefit of the local food industry.
As addressed earlier, the Food Hygiene Regulations 2013 is focused on allowing local authorities to have a strong role in ensuring that food businesses are producing and selling food that’s safe to eat. If you are an owner of a food business or a senior employee for such a business, whether in production, retail or catering, then it is your responsibility to be aware of these regulations and what they mean.
There are several sections to the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 and it can be complicated to go through all of them as they are outlined in the official documents. However, the concepts are actually very straightforward.
The regulations set out the responsibilities of local authorities when it comes to ensuring that local businesses are handling, preparing, and serving food that’s safe to eat. This includes actively working with businesses to improve standards, issuing notices, and issuing punishments.
Most of the wording in this particular piece of legislation is about the provision for specific offences, and how the authorities are able to go about enforcing food hygiene standards in their jurisdiction.
Ultimately, the two important things to be aware of if you’re a food business are that you must adhere to hygiene best practices, and you must be able to trace the origins of food that you sell. Bear these two issues in mind, and you’re likely to be on the right side of the law when it comes to these regulations.
Should you not take note of the aforementioned considerations, or not take on the responsibilities and requirements outlined by food legislation in England, you could face serious consequences and penalties.
Those guilty of an offence, which is defined as if they fail to comply or contravene with any of the EU provisions specified in the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013, may be subject to:
Navigating all of the various food safety laws in this country can be difficult, which is why training in the subject is highly recommended. Under EU and UK law, everyone working with food should be appropriately trained for their role, and the best training will include legislation.
At Virtual College, we offer a range of food safety training courses that cover the requirements of key UK legislation. These online courses can be completed from anywhere and are a great way to learn more about the laws that control how food businesses operate.
Regulation 19 under the Food Safety and Hygiene England Regulations 2013 refers to situations involving individuals who fail to comply with specified EU provisions. The regulation states that anyone who does not conduct their food business in a way that does not abide by specific EU provisions will be deemed as having committed an offence.
Regulation 29 of the Food Safety and Hygiene England Regulations 2013 refers to the instance of officials conducting food inspections. If a food inspection is carried out by an authorised officer who has powers under England's food legislation, this official is able to deem a food as not being processed, produced, or distributed in accordance with England's hygiene regulations.
Is it Law to Have a Food Hygiene Certificate?
In the UK, it is not required by law to have a food hygiene certificate, which acts as evidence that your employees have received training in food safety and hygiene. However, it is a legal requirement under UK law for food businesses to ensure that all members of their team involved in the handling of food have received enough training for food safety and hygiene in the workplace.
Since 2013, the Food Safety and Hygiene England Regulations have played a significant role in the maintenance of England’s high food safety standards. Playing a pivotal role in the protection of public health across the country, the general public in England continues to be safeguarded against the effects of poor food safety and hygiene from food businesses that are unfit to serve customers.
Without its implementation, local authorities and independent bodies would not be able to take action against these businesses, placing the public health of England at unnecessary risk.
If you want to learn more about what is required for a food business to comply with food safety regulations, we offer a selection of food hygiene and food safety training courses for your business. These courses are designed to provide you and your staff with the knowledge and skill sets you need to maintain good food hygiene and safety in the workplace in line with food safety legislation.