Food Hygiene

Food hygiene is about making sure that any food you provide is safe to eat. Food hygiene legislation sets out regulations governing the handling, storage and preparation of food (and drinks).

Food hygiene legislation affects everyone, but the legal requirements are particularly relevant to organisations and businesses working in the production, processing, storage and sale of food. This includes Third Sector groups and organisations.

Food Safety legislation

The main requirements for food safety are mainly set out under powers given by The Food Safety Act (and amendments) 1990, which applies to the whole of the United Kingdom.

If your community group or organisation is preparing, handling, cooking and/or providing food for public consumption your committee/board members are responsible for ensuring that:

  • you do not include anything in food, remove anything from food or treat food in any way that will mean that it would be damaging to the health of people eating it. This means that any food you prepare, store and sell should be fit for human consumption and not going to make anyone eating (or drinking) it ill

  • the food you serve or sell is of the nature, substance or quality which consumers would expect

  • that the food is labeled, advertised and presented in a way that is not false or misleading

Day to day enforcement of Food Safety legislation is in the main the responsibility of Environmental Health practitioners and Local Authority Trading Standards officers.  The Food Standards Agency, overseeing the work of local authorities in relation to food safety, also enforces some of the regulations.

Who is responsible?

Even if your community group only provides or prepares food for home baking sales, soup and sandwich type fundraising events or gala days – your committee should be taking on board the responsibilities of food safety legislation requirements.

If you are preparing food for sale or for consumption in a community building, the venue committee is responsible for ensuring that the premises are clean and well maintained and this includes the kitchen area. Whoever does the catering is responsible for ensuring the safety of the food prepared and served on those premises.

If your community group or organisation’s main activities or services will be as a food ‘business’ you will need to comply with all the requirements set out under powers given by the Food Safety Act 1990 as well as subsequent legislation. Contact the Food Standards Agency and your local authority for more information.

Ensuring compliance and best practice food safety procedures

  • all food (and drink - including water) should be prepared safely and hygienically in premises that are clean and properly equipped

  • anyone preparing or supervising the preparation of food, should be properly trained or instructed in food hygiene

  • your food hygiene procedures should demonstrate that you have effective food safety management in place.  Anyone responsible for developing and maintaining food hygiene procedures should also have received adequate Food Hygiene training

  • if your community group has a premises with a kitchen used for the storage and  preparation of food for public consumption (perhaps a village hall or community centre), display food hygiene posters prominently in the kitchen area as well as on other notice-boards. You may also wish to send a Food Hygiene leaflet to user groups when they make a booking and will be using your kitchen

If your community group is responsible for a kitchen as part of your premises (such as in a village hall or community centre) your committee or board members should carry out a Risk Assessment in relation to food hygiene. 

This will:

  • identify any hazards to food safety – consider things like cross contamination of foods, temperatures for storage etc.

  • enable you to put controls in place to deal with these hazards

  • agree a procedure for checking that those controls are carried out and working

Your Food Safety Risk Assessment will enable you to adopt a Food Safety Policy, stating:

  • what you will do if something goes wrong

  • how you will keep your procedures up to date

  • that you will record inspections and reviews

Contact your Local Authority for specific guidance.  They should be able to offer advice and guidance on matters relating to Food Hygiene including good practice, procedures, safety checks, supervision and training.  

They should also be able to:

  • supply posters for display in your venue, and leaflets to disseminate to user groups

  • look over and advise on plans for any new community hall

  • arrange or provide training courses in food preparation and handling, and sometimes assist with the costs