Food Hygiene and Safety

Food must be safe to eat and be prepared in a clean and hygienic manner. There are a number of things businesses need to meet their legal duties when selling food.

The Council will routinely inspect food premises, sample food and investigate customer complaints to ensure businesses within East Herts are selling food that is safe to consume. To support businesses we offer advice at the time of the inspection and produce guidance to help you to comply with food safety laws so that the public are protected.  The Council no longer provide food safety training courses in house, other available options can be found on our Food Safety Training Courses page.

National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Council supports the Food Standards Agency's Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. This means businesses such as restaurants, cafes and food shops will be able to display a rating indicating how well they comply with food hygiene legislation. Find out more about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Food Safety Management Systems

Food business operators are legally required to have a written food safety management system in place to ensure food is safe for customers to eat. The system will look at what might go wrong with the food that you sell and what you must do to ensure it is safe for your customers. The level of documentation required will depend on the nature and size of your business.

Safer food, better business (SFBB) is an innovative and practical approach to food safety management which has been developed by the Food Standards Agency. It is designed to helped small businesses with food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations.

The Safer food, better business guides are available on the Food Standard Agency's website. You can also print out the new print-friendly version of the diary refill separately if you only need that part of the pack. This new version can be filled electronically and allows you to download the diary pages onto your computer desktop, fill them in, name them for the appropriate month and year and store them electronically, if you prefer. 

If you have questions about your food safety management system, please Contact Environmental Health for some advice.

Fitness to Work

People who work around open food while suffering from certain infections (mainly from bacteria and viruses) can contaminate the food or surfaces the food may come into contact with. This can spread infection to other people through the food.

Diarrhoea and/or vomiting are the main symptoms of illnesses that can be transmitted through food, so staff handling food or working in a food handling area must report these symptoms to management immediately.

Managers must exclude staff with these symptoms from working with or around open food, normally for 48 hours from when symptoms stop naturally however, different action is required in some cases, as explained in section 9 the Food Handlers: Fitness to Work Guidance.

In addition, all staff who handle food and who work around open food must always wash and dry their hands before handling food, or surfaces likely to come into contact with food, especially after going to the toilet because it is possible to be infected but not have symptoms.

Food Hygiene - The 4 C's

Good food hygiene is essential for you to make or sell food that is safe to eat. It is very important for you and your staff to understand what good food hygiene is.

Good food hygiene helps you to, obey the law, reduce the risk of food poisoning among your customers and protect your business's reputation. Good food hygiene is all about controlling harmful bacteria, which can cause serious illness. The four main things to remember for good hygiene are:

  • Cross-contamination
  • Cleaning
  • Chilling
  • Cooking

These are known as the 4 Cs. They will help you prevent the most common food safety problems.

E.coli O157 and Cross Contamination

As a result of serious outbreaks of E.coli O157 in Scotland in 1996 and Wales 2005 which were attributed to cross-contamination arising from poor handling of food, the Food Standards Agency has produced guidance on the control of E.coli O157 for businesses below. Although E.coli is the key focus of this guidance, the measures outlined will also help in the control of other bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella.

Allergy Awareness

Food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease are thought to affect more than three million people in the UK and in severe cases it can be life threatening or result in death.

The UK is one of the top three countries in the world for the highest incidence of allergies. With hospital admissions due to food allergies in the UK on the increase, the Council are keen to support local businesses fulfil their obligations in regard to allergens.

From December 2014, the rules around food allergens changed to build on current allergen labelling provisions for prepacked foods and also introduce a requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or prepacked for direct sale. More information is available on these changes via the Trading Standards website.

When allergy labelling is incorrect or if there is another food allergy risk, the food product has to be withdrawn or recalled to protect consumers. To be kept informed about the latest withdraws or recalls you can sign-up for allergy alerts by SMS text via the Food Standards Agency's Allergy Alerts News Page.

The Food Standards Agency has developed an online allergy training tool to help local authority food law enforcement officers as well as owners, managers and staff in the food manufacturing and catering sector. The tool gives an overview about the new EU Food Information Regulation for Consumers and working with allergens.

Nutrition legislation information sources

Information to help food businesses comply with nutrition legislation can be found on the Gov.UK Website

Complaints about a Business

If you want to complain about food that you have bought or about standards you have seen in food businesses, use our contact us form so that the complaint can be investigated. Any complaint is dealt with in confidence and can help prevent any further problems occurring.

Food safety guides

Below are some guides for food business operators.

Managing your waste

Business owners must ensure that their kitchen waste does not block or damage public sewers. Please follow Thames Water's Best Practice for Food Business on their website for advice on dealing with fat, oil and grease in your kitchen. 

Further guidance for your business

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership's pages on Better Business for All provide information on how businesses can access the support they need from Local Authorities.

The Hertfordshire Growth Hub website provides information on the support they can offer to businesses in Hertfordshire.

See the Hertfordshire County Council website for support the county council can offer businesses.