Food safety guide

06 January 2020

Whether you have an onsite restaurant, run a café or other catering business, use outside caterers or provide vending services for staff, food safety will be an important consideration.

Food preparation

What is food safety and why is it important?

Food safety means ensuring that it is properly handled, prepared and stored to reduce the risk of individuals becoming unwell from foodborne illnesses. This will include ensuring food is handled hygienically and care is taken to reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions.

Food safety law

Food which is supplied, sold, or provided outside of the family or domestic setting must be safe to eat.

Food safety law covers a wide range of food safety aspects. Examples range from establishing management procedures and the standards required in premises, to the training and personal hygiene of those involved in preparation. As such, you may have a number of responsibilities relating to the preparation and sale of food. This will depend upon your particular circumstances.

Food safety law for businesses - you can learn more about these using the information provided on the Food Standards Agency website including detailed information about food safety law.

Food safety law for charities - useful guidance for volunteers and charity groups is also set out for organisations providing food in a village hall or other community settings.

Hygiene ratings

If you are a food handling business, you may also be assessed under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (or Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland).

This means that when your business is inspected, you will be given a hygiene rating, based on the standards found at the time. You will be given a sticker/certificate with your rating or result to display publicly.

Food safety precautions

Typical precautions can include:

  • ensuring premises are suitable, properly maintained, clean and disinfected so that there is no risk of contamination
  • handling food properly and storing it at the correct temperatures
  • providing adequate staff welfare facilities e.g. hand washing, toilet facilities, changing facilities etc.
  • implementing specific precautions based on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) where necessary
  • developing procedures to deal with any outbreak of food poisoning, foreign body contamination incidents and complaints
  • providing information concerning food allergies where required
  • providing adequate training and information for food handlers and supervisors etc.
  • completing suitable records and keeping them including those relating to temperature control, maintenance, and inspections
  • keeping records relating to any food safety management procedures and information or training provided to employees and others.

For more detailed information on dealing with food safety issues, you can read our guide to food safety.