Getting a Grip of the Food Safety Act in the UK

At Training Express, we look to inspire individuals who are ready to make the most out of their personal and professional lives. To do that, we look to build up your base of knowledge on a range of topics. One of the most important topics within the hospitality industry in the UK, for example, is the Food Safety Act. How can the Act have an impact on your life?

If you are connected to a food or hospitality business in the United Kingdom, you need to be aware of the Food Safety Act 1990. Following the guidelines of the legislation, you can ensure best practices for your business. Moreover, the basic knowledge of the law can save you from a food safety fiasco.

The Food Safety Act: Key aspects

The Food Safety Acts 1990, as per the amendments, gives the framework of the primary food legislation in England, Wales and Scotland. According to the Act, the main duties of any food business are the following:
  • Your business should not alter food by any means so that food causes damage to people’s health. In other words, you should not include anything in food, remove anything from food, or even process food in any way that makes the food dangerous for people.
  • Your food business sells or serves food in accordance with nature, quality or substance of the customers’ expectations.
  • You can't mislead your customers or give them false information through the labelling, advertising or presentation of the food you sell or serve.
In Northern Ireland, the Food Safety Order 1991 includes the necessary provisions for food safety. You can download the PDF guide for food businesses which is provided by the Food Safety Agency (FSA).

Violation of the Food Safety Act: The consequences

A serious matter of food safety might lead to the discontinuation of your business. However, a claim on the basis of the Food Safety Act 1990 gives you the option of argument on due diligence grounds. It is a legal way of defending yourself against food safety claims.

Although your customer had a negative experience, you might have done everything required to prevent the mishap. Defective food, for example, can be the fault of a supplier or a trader. In any case, you can show evidence that you took all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of your clients.

Due diligence: What is it all about?

Typically, due diligence would work as an accepted defence for you if —
  • Your business takes all precautionary measures to check all the supplies and prepare the food in a safe and hygienic manner. Alternatively, your suppliers carry out all the required checks properly. However, there should be solid evidence and reasonable circumstances for any matter.
  • Your business is responsible for the incident under uncontrollable circumstances. For instance, the incorrect information from one your suppliers causes harm to a customer.
  • The complainant does not provide necessary information on time. For example, a customer forgets to mention any allergies to the staff of a food business while ordering food.
  • There is no legitimate reason to believe that your action can lead to an offence.
Although your ignorance might save you at times, you need to go through the proper process for ensuring the safety of your clients. You must not rely upon ‘due diligence’ arguments. Abide by the food safety rules for the sake of your customers and the reputation of your business.

Further actions for food safety

We recommend that you take a look at our food safety courses here at Training Express. These could play a leading role in helping you to overcome any potential risks. If you are worried about the potential risk of censure due to an incident, though, you should definitely look to further evaluate your use of due diligence with regards to food preparation and safety.

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December 10, 2020

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