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 in a hygienic way, and make it an offence to supply food which is unsafe to be consumed and harmful to human health.

A breach of these regulations is likely to be strong evidence supporting a holiday food poisoning claim or restaurant illness claim.

What counts as a food business activity?

Food business activities are classed as any process dealing with preparing or selling food.

This includes:

  • 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.

They 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 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, and put control measures in place to prevent problems.

This means practising and maintaining procedures based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) principles, which must be reviewed if new products are produced or working procedures change. The methods (controls) used should be effective, proportionate and documented.

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 labelled and described and meet relevant quality standards.

Business owners must ensure that all food handlers are supervised and instructed and / or 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 hand washing facilities;
  • have an adequate supply of drinking water - for use in food production;
  • have suitable pest controls in place;
  • have adequate natural and/or artificial lighting;
  • have sufficient natural and/or mechanical ventilation;
  • provide clean lavatories which do not lead directly into food rooms;
  • be provided with adequate drainage.

Food preparation areas should generally have surface finishes which are easy to clean, and where necessary, disinfect. This includes equipment, work surfaces, floors and walls.

The rooms should also have

  • adequate facilities for washing food and equipment
  • adequate 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

Food handlers

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.

Illnesses such as infected wounds, skin infections, diarrhoea or vomiting should be reported to management immediately.

Any food business employees with diarrhoea 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 locations including marquees or stalls, although there are slightly different requirements for practical reasons.

However, wherever food is sold, two basic rules always apply:

  • there should be adequate facilities to prepare and serve food safely;
  • and food handling procedures should avoid exposing food to risk of any contamination.

Ignoring the regulations

If a food business cannot demonstrate compliance with these regulations, the business may be found liable to pay compensation to anyone who sustains illness, such as food poisoning, as a result of consuming food or drink produced by the business.

It may be that a successful claim may be made even if a breach of these regulations specifically has not been proven, however success it such circumstances will be dependent on the facts of the case.

For more information, or to discuss your options with a specialist solicitor, call Quittance on 0800 612 7456.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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