Food being offered within the workplace should be prepared in accordance with the Food Safety Act 1990, which is the principal food control measure in the UK, advises Jagdeep Tiwana of Berwin Leighton Paisner.
- Food Safety Act 1990
- Food Labelling Regulations 1996
- Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1999 and 2003
- Food Labelling (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2004
- Food Safety Act 1990 (Amendment) Regulations 2004 implementing Regulation EC 178/2002
- Genetically Modified Food (England) Regulations 2004 implementing Regulation EC 1829/2003
- General Food Regulations 2004 implementing Regulation EC 178/2002
- Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs
- Regulation (EC) 853/2004 on Hygiene Rules for Foods of Animal Origin
- Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/14)
- Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health Claims
Controlling temperatures is one of the most significant ways of ensuring food safety. As of 1st January 2006, this area has been governed by various EC Regulations setting out requirements for foods that are likely to support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the formation of toxins at temperatures that would result in a risk to health. In particular, they stipulate when foods must be kept chilled, e.g. dairy products, cooked products containing meat, fish or egg, sandwiches and cooked rice.
For a conviction under food law, the penalties can range from a fine of up to £20,000 and/or six months’ imprisonment in the lower courts, to an unlimited fine and up to two years’ imprisonment in the higher courts.
A food safety checklist should include:
- Are the premises registered with the competent authority?
- Does the construction and layout of the premises comply with the Hygiene Regulations?
- Are suppliers reputable and reliable?
- Have the critical control points been identified, controls put in place and details of the procedure recorded?
- Have the staff been properly trained in all aspects of food safety, hygiene and temperature control?
- Is there a detailed cleaning schedule in place?
- Is waste picked up on a regular basis?
- Are there adequate pest control measures in place?
- Is equipment regularly cleaned and inspected? (This is particularly important for oil filtration systems.)
- Are proper temperature controls in place?
- Are all of the above steps documented?
Toilets and washroom provision
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 supported by a Code of Practice, give precise details regarding the numbers of toilets and hand basins which should be made available to employees, based on their numbers and sexes. In addition, reasonable adjustments in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 are essential to ensure access to washroom facilities, says Andrew Johnston of PHS Washrooms.
The Regulations specify that the provision of washroom equipment includes basic minimum standards, including:
Water and soap dispensers
Regulation 21 of the Regulations states that ‘washing facilities … must include soap or other suitable means of cleaning’. In addition, facilities must provide ‘a supply of clean hot and cold, or warm, water (which shall be running water so far as is practicable)’.
The Approved Code of Practice for Regulation 21 advises that ‘in the case of water closets used by women, suitable means should be provided for the disposal of sanitary dressings’.
Paper dispensers and warm air dryers
Regulation 21 of the Regulations states that ‘washing facilities … must include towels or other suitable means of drying’.
Toilet roll holders
The Approved Code of Practice for Regulation 21 advises that in the case of water closets, ‘toilet paper in a holder or dispenser … should be provided’.
Case Study 1
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) admitted breaching hygiene rules at a branch in Leicester Square. It admitted having inadequate pest control at the branch, failing to provide adequate handwashing facilities and failing to keep the restaurant clean and in good order. Environmental health inspectors from City of Westminster Council found cockroaches, mice and flies during an inspection of the branch in 2008.
Case Study 2
A building firm boss was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,215 for not providing adequate toilet and washing facilities for staff on a construction site. Bridlington Magistrates Court heard a toilet unit was not plumbed in and there was no water supplied to sinks in a cabin or adjacent toilet compartment at the construction site for a pair of cottages at High Green, Bridlington. Following the initial HSE inspection, an Improvement Notice was served requiring the provision of suitable toilet and washing facilities. On a subsequent site visit it was found that the requirements of the Improvement Notice had not been complied with. A sewage outlet had been provided to the toilet, but there was no water supply to the unit. Neither was there any water available at the sinks in the cabin or the adjacent toilet compartment and no soap or towels were available.
- Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations 1990 (amended 1991).
- Water Industry Act 1991.
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Food Standards Agency:
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health:
Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Catering Guide, Chadwick House Group, 1997.
ISBN: 0 900 103 00 0.
HSE: L24 – Workplace health, safety and welfare, approved code of practice and guidance.
ISBN: 0 7176 0413 6.