Food safety or food hygiene is the handling, preparing, and storing of food in a way that reduces the risk of harm or infection. Poor handling and management of food, as well as the consumption of bad food, can lead to a range of illness, such as food poisoning.
Anyone who works in food production, preparation, or service must understand their legal duties when it comes to food safety, as well as food safety best practice.
Human Focus offers the following food safety e-learning courses:
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1 million cases of food poisoning are reported in Great Britain each year. Similarly, more than 23 million people in the European Region fall ill from eating contaminated food. This results in 5,000 deaths per year.
Types of food poisoning include:
- Campylobacter poisoning – caused by a type of bacteria that has no taste or smell. While most recover fully, it can lead to long-term or severe problems in some.
- Listeria poisoning – poisoning from this bacterium is rare, but it can cause serious symptoms as well as death.
- Salmonella infection – Salmonella poisoning is generally caused by inadequate cooking of animal products or cross contamination. The elderly and young children have a greater risk of severe illness when exposed to Salmonella.
- Hepatitis E – Hepatitis E Virus infections are generally not serious, but in some cases, they can be fatal. Evidence suggests that this can be spread through pork.
- Coli – E. Coli is usually passed through undercooked or raw meats, or from cross contamination with other food products, such as vegetables. Some strains of this bacteria can cause severe illness.
Food safety and hygiene are overseen by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The FSA is an independent government department with a duty to protect consumers and public health in relation to food. Food safety in Scotland is overseen by Food Standard Scotland, but enforced by the Royal Environmental Health Institute Scotland.
Food Safety Act 1990 provides the framework for food safety law in Great Britain. It requires all food meant for human consumption to be handled in a controlled way. It requires that:
- Food businesses handle and treat food in a way that is not damaging to the health of those that consume it
- Food business only sell or serve food of a nature, substance, or quality that consumers expect
- Food is labelled, advertised, and presented in a way that is not false or misleading
The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 imposes a legal duty on all food businesses to ensure that their food handling and processing activities are carried out safely and hygienically. The food safety rules under these regulations make it an offence to supply food that is harmful to human health.
Any organisation failing to follow food safety legislation is liable to pay compensation to persons who become ill as a result of consuming harmful food. If the food item contains any noxious substance that can cause physical or non-physical damage to the customer, he or she has the legal right to bring a claim against the food manufacturer or supplier.
Employers engaged in food handling or processing are responsible for providing staff with hygiene training so that the food they deliver is safe to eat. This training should include the management of food allergies when handling, preparing, and selling food.
Staff working in food production businesses are legally to be trained in basic food safety standards for the safe handling of food items. They must take the hygiene training provided by the employer and pay full attention to and apply the safety measures whilst working.
Human Focus can help food businesses to comply with the law by offering online food safety training courses approved by IIRSM.
Food wastes that are not properly disposed of from the food preparation areas are likely to attract pests. Three types of food safety hazards result from poorly managed food wastes:
- Biological Hazards – Biological hazards include bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are introduced from inadequate sanitation practices
- Chemical Hazards – Chemical hazards occur when hazardous chemicals are present in food items. These chemicals may lead to liver cancer, dermatitis, cough, and rhinitis depending upon the nature of the chemical hazard
- Viral Hazards – Viral hazards occur when the food contains a ratio of the viruses that may result in skin rash, slight itching of the mouth, migraine headaches, or anaphylactic shocks
Every country establishes its laws for food safety regulation, these regulations vary from country to country and domestically region to region.
The FSA is responsible for enforcing food safety laws in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Food and Drug Administration Ireland is the food regulatory authority in the Republic of Ireland. In Scotland, food safety is enforced by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.
The Food Safety Act 1990 aims to protect the public’s health and safety concerning the food they consume. The Act gives authorities the power to act in the interests of the consumer at any stage in the food handling, production and supply chain.
Four simple rules that are helpful to staying safe from injury and hazards in the kitchen are:
- Cleaning – Following effective cleaning and disinfection regimes is crucial to preventing the spread of pathogens when handling food
- Cooking – All food must be properly and fully cooked. This will require different temperature and cooking methods, based on the type of food
- Cross-contamination – The passing of pathogens from food to surfaces and other food items is a major cause of food poisoning. Specific practices must be followed to prevent this from happening
- Chilling – Pathogens breed in raw and cooked foods within a certain temperature range. To prevent the spread of infectious bacteria it is essential to separate and chill foods appropriately
Implementing these food safety rules in the right way will help reduce food hazards to a large extent.
A food safety audit can be prepared by creating a health and safety compliance checklist if one has proper knowledge of its requirements. Our food safety courses aim at helping you to do so. It is up to you whether you create an e-checklist that is available to your employees 24/7 or a paper-based checklist.
Select any course offered by Human Focus under this toolkit, purchase and complete the online course and receive the certificate upon successful completion. The certificate is downloadable in PDF format anytime.