The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006
The Food Hygiene Regulations (2006) place an obligation on all 'food businesses' to make sure that their activities are carried out hygienically. The regulations make it an offence to supply food that is unsafe for consumption and harmful to human health.
If a food business has breached the regulations and made you ill, a compensation claim may be possible.
What is a 'food business activity'?
A 'food business activity' is any process involved with the commercial preparation or sale of food, including:
- Manufacturing - handling, preparation, processing, packaging
- Distribution - storage, transportation, selling, and supplying. Food must be traceable from farm to fork.
Supported by European Regulation 852/2004, the regulations affect anyone who owns, manages, or works in a food business.
The rules apply to catering, and retail outlets - from vending machines and mobile catering vans to 5-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants; and include markets, corner shops and supermarkets.
Basic safety requirements for food businesses
To ensure that the appropriate level of public health protection is in place food businesses must identify any food safety hazards and risks relevant to their business. They must then put in place control measures to prevent these hazards.
Complying with the regulations means practising and maintaining procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. A review must take place if new products are produced or working procedures change. The methods (controls) used should be effective, proportionate, and documented.
Every food business is different
Each food business is different and food handlers should assess the risks within their own business and apply the relevant controls.
For example, a business preparing and handling foods that may be classed as high risk (of bacterial contamination), such as raw poultry, will need different procedures from a business selling low-risk products such as bread.
Raw materials or ingredients that, even after processing, may make food unfit for human consumption should be rejected.
Food must be correctly labeled and described and meet relevant quality standards.
Business owners must ensure that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and trained in food hygiene matters relevant to their roles.
All food-producing businesses must register with the relevant authorities.
Food premises should:
- be clean and maintained in good repair;
- be designed and constructed to permit good hygiene practices;
- have adequate handwashing facilities;
- have an adequate supply of drinking water - for use in food production;
- have suitable pest controls in place;
- have proper natural or artificial lighting;
- have sufficient natural or mechanical ventilation;
- provide clean lavatories which do not lead directly into food rooms;
- be provided with adequate drainage.
Food preparation areas
Food preparation areas should generally have surface finishes which are easy to clean, and where necessary, can be disinfected. This includes equipment, worktops, floors and walls.
Food preparation rooms should also have
- adequate facilities for washing food and equipment
- suitable facilities for the storage and removal of food waste
Food and ingredients must be prevented from cross-contamination either through direct contact or through work surfaces or equipment
Each food business must decide what training or supervision their food handlers need by identifying the areas of their work most likely to affect food hygiene.
A high degree of personal hygiene is imperative. Clean, and where appropriate, protective clothing must be worn. Provision must be made for clothing to be changed when moving between high and low-risk preparation areas.
Good personal hygiene practices include
- Routine washing of hands when handling food;
- keeping hair tied back and covered;
- Not smoking.
Any illness, such as infected wounds, skin infections, diarrhoea or vomiting, should be reported to management immediately.
Any food business employees with diarrhea and or vomiting should stay away from their place of work until 48 hours have elapsed after their symptoms cease.
Temporary and occasional food businesses
Many of the guidelines apply equally to food businesses trading from temporary or occasional (pop-up) locations, including marquees or stalls, although there are slightly different requirements for practical reasons.
Wherever food is sold, two essential rules always apply:
- there should be adequate facilities to prepare and serve food safely;
- and food handling procedures should avoid exposing food to the risk of contamination.
What if a food business breaches the regulations?
If a food business breaches the rules, it may be found liable to pay compensation to anyone made ill from consuming food or drink produced by the business.
A successful claim may even be possible if the breach has not been proved. This will depend on the facts of the case.
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