Food safety for businesses
Wiltshire Council has over 5000 registered food businesses. To protect the health of residents and those who visit Wiltshire, the Public Protection Service promotes food safety through the provision of food safety advice, carrying out inspections, providing customer facing food hygiene ratings and, where needed, by effectively enforcing the law.
Food Standards Agency food alert
Details of current food alerts and allergens can be found on the Food Standards Agency Alerts website.
The Food Standards Agency leads on the Government response to food incidents. It provides advice on how to report, respond to and prevent an incident, as well as carrying out monitoring and planning work.
Guidance for food businesses on how to report a food incident is available on the Food Standards Agency (FSA): Food incidents, product withdrawals and recalls website.
The Food Standards Agency define a food incident as "...event where there are concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers' interests.
Such incidents could include:
- Contaminated food or animal feed, e.g. harmful bacteria or foreign matter
- Environmental pollution incidents such as fires, chemical/oil spills and radiation leaks, which may involve voluntary or statutory action (e.g. orders made under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985)
- Products containing unexpected allergens (eg the label does not state that the product may contain traces of nut or dairy material etc).
- When a food incident occurs it may be necessary to withdraw affected products and/or inform the public about them.
Guidance for food business on how to report a food incident can be found the Food Standards Agency (FSA): Food incidents, product withdrawals and recalls website.
Food safety legislation
Food safety legislation is based on the requirements of EC Directives and Regulations:
The main piece of legislation that we use is the Food Safety Act 1990. The act is concerned with all aspects of food production and sale. It includes the offences associated with producing or selling unfit or contaminated food and falsely describing food. The powers available to the Food and Safety Team are included in the Act as are the defences open to food businesses. The vast majority of food regulations are made under the Food Safety Act 1990.
These regulations contain all the specific requirements made of food businesses. This includes things like providing hand wash basins, keeping premises clean and protecting food from contamination. It also requires people handling food to be suitably trained and for food businesses to assess the risks they present to food safety (Hazard analysis).
It also sets the temperatures at which food must be kept. Food should either be kept chilled below 8°C or kept hot above 63°C. The regulations contain some exceptions to these rules.
For more information on the training required of food handlers please see our training page .
Specific types of food production premises are controlled by Regulation (EC) 853/2004 and Regulation (EC) 854/2004. These include producers of:
- Dairy Products
- Meat Products
- Egg Products
- Fish and Fish Products
Other legislation that we commonly use includes:
- The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982
- The Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991
- The Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Regulations 1984
Hazard analysis (HACCP) for food Safety Management Systems
The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 require food businesses to examine their own operations and to identify the controls necessary to protect the safety of food.
Undertaking a hazard analysis as part of your HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) is a legal requirement for all food businesses. You must also provide this analysis in writing. Such documents are often referred to as a food safety management system.
The requirement is broken up in to seven individual requirements:
- The operations must be analysed for all potential food hazards
- Identify the points of the operation where the hazards can cause problems
- Decide which of the points identified (there may be many) are critical to protecting food safety
- Thinking of and putting in to practice suitable controls at the critical points. Control measures must be monitored
- The analysis must be reviewed periodically to make sure nothing has changed in your operations.
- You must prove that your HACCP plan is working (verification)
- Keep records of all of the above (documentation)
More information on hazard analysis and HACCP management systems can be found on the Food Standards Agency's website:
Part of your Hazard Analysis will include the requirement for traceability. That is, you must be able to demonstrate where food used in your business comes from and where it goes (if you don't sell it to the final consumer). This is so that any unsafe food can quickly be removed from the food chain.
Further information on traceability can be found on the following websites.
Food poisoning is a common illness and about 100,000 people a year develop it. This number represents those people who went to their doctor. The actual number is probably about 10 times this amount (i.e. a million people a year).
There are a number of things (agents) that can cause the symptoms of Food poisoning. They include bacteria, viruses, moulds, protozoa, chemical contamination, and allergic reactions to food.
The main causes of food poisoning and food borne illness are:
- preparing foods too far in advance;
- not cooking foods properly;
- not re-heating foods properly;
- not re-heating foods properly;
- not defrosting foods correctly;
- storing foods incorrectly (i.e. too warm) so that bacteria can grow quickly;
- cross contamination of foods after cooking;
- infection from people handling foods due to poor hygiene.
If there is evidence to suggest that you may have developed food poisoning after eating at a food premises, the Food Safety Team will investigate this. If the premises is responsible for a food poisoning outbreak (where lots of people have been ill at the same time) then we may take formal legal action against the premises.
We all are, but babies, young children and the elderly can very quickly become ill when infected. Pregnant women, people who already have a pre-existing illness, and anyone whose immune system is weakened can also be seriously affected by food borne illness.
- stomach cramps;
Food borne illness can spread quickly, partly because everyone in the family could have eaten the same food and partly because the bacteria may be picked up by close family contact (eg nursing the sick).
Viruses can also cause illness, similar to food poisoning and they too spread very quickly.
If you suspect you are suffering food poisoning it is recommended that you visit your doctor as soon as possible, who might ask you to submit a faeces sample for examination. Samples are useful in that they might be able to show which food-borne illness you are suffering from or could rule out a food-poisoning organism. Viruses can also be detected. Consult your doctor immediately if the person affected is a baby, elderly or has an existing illness or condition or if symptoms are prolonged or severe (eg bloody diarrhoea).
If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning, it is recommended that you follow the advice below to try and prevent the spread of the illness:
- wash your hands after contact with the sick person, and before handling food.
- do not use the same towel or face cloth as someone who is suffering with food borne illness.
- clear up soiling accidents straightaway, wash with hot soapy water and disinfect with a disinfectant or bleach.
- disinfect door and toilet handles, taps and the toilet seat after use and disinfect the toilet bowl frequently.
- drink plenty of fluids while you are ill to prevent dehydration
If laboratory analysis confirms food borne infection, they will automatically notify Public Health England and the Council's Food and Safety Team. You will be contacted with a questionnaire about your illness. This will help us assess whether you picked the infection up at home, at a food premises or on holiday and whether your illness is part of a wider outbreak. The questionnaire will ask you the following questions:
- what symptoms you have;
- when the symptoms started and when they stopped;
- what foods you have eaten over the last few days;
- where you have eaten;
- whether you have travelled anywhere recently;
- what your occupation is;
- whether other members of the family have been ill.
If there is evidence to suggest that you have developed food poisoning after eating at a food premises, the Food and Safety Team will investigate this. If the premises is responsible for a food poisoning outbreak (where lots of people have been ill at the same time) then we may take formal legal action against the premises.
Unfortunately, many people infect themselves with food poisoning bacteria at home. Further information. on how to prevent this is available online.
You can't see it, smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won't forget it. A common cause of campylobacter poisoning is cross-contamination from raw poultry.
There are a number of things you can do to help protect yourself, for example;
- Store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on bottom shelf of fridge.
- Don't wash raw chicken because it can splash germs around your kitchen.
- Wash everything that has touched raw chicken in soap and hot water - your hands and utensils.
- Check chicken is cooked thoroughly - no pink meat, steaming hot and juices run clear.
To find out more visit the Food Standards Agency: Managing food safety-Traceability.
Food and Safety Team
Phone: 0300 456 0100