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Whether we eat for pleasure or for fuel, we all want to know that the food we are eating is safe, and this is especially important when providing food in the workplace.

There are strict food safety rules in place that need to be adhered to for workplace catering in order to prevent illnesses, contamination and allergic reactions, as in some cases this has the potential to be fatal.

What is food safety?

Food safety is the process that helps to ensure that any of the food we eat is safe. It covers anything to do with the catering process to ensure that good practices are followed in order to remove or reduce the risk of things such as food poisoning.

Food hygiene is a part of this and should be considered to be a preventative measure against any risks relating to food. It should cover personal hygiene, cross-contamination, cleaning, sanitisation, the control of allergens, food storage and temperature management and control.

All food must comply with the relevant legislations, whether it falls under the banner of off-site or on-site catering. On-site catering refers to any food that is prepared, cooked and served at an event location, whilst in the case of off-site catering, the food is prepared elsewhere and brought to the location, sometimes with the needs for additional cooking, preparation and serving.

Why is it important to follow food safety regulations in the workplace?

There are many reasons to follow food safety regulations in the workplace, but the primary one is to maintain the health and wellbeing of the people who will consume the food, whether they are staff, visitors or customers.

It is possible for bacteria to spread to food very easily and this can lead to food poisoning. In many cases, this will lead to an upset stomach for a few days, but it can leave some people very poorly indeed, and so it is vital that any risk is minimised. This means following all food safety and hygiene rules and recommendations to try and avoid the issue of contamination or cross-contamination in the storage, preparation, cooking, transportation or serving of any food.

It is also important to be aware of any products which could be or contain allergens. Those who suffer from food allergies may find themselves a little unwell, or in severe cases, the results can be fatal, and so it is essential that these foods are identified. Any food which has been in contact with an allergen should either be removed or made clear to the consumer, so that anyone with an allergy can avoid it.

In addition to making people unwell, there are also foods which are capable of causing injuries. It is important to be aware of foods that could be responsible for choking hazards, such as those which contain pips, stones or bones, for example. There is also the concern that food could contain non-natural elements that are not meant to be there, such as hair, fingernails, plastic, glass, metal or wood to name just a few.

All of these can present massive risks to anyone consuming the food, and so it is essential to take food safety very seriously in order to protect all concerned.

Food safety regulations in the UK - The Food Safety Act 1990

The Food Safety Act 1990 is the main legislation for the food safety laws of the UK, and is enforced by The Food Standards Agency, or Food Standards Scotland. They concentrate on the hygienic handling of food, the physical condition of the business and the food management systems that are in place.

This means that any caterer needs to maintain hygienic premises, including having adequate waste management, ventilation, pest control and lighting as well as cleanliness. They will also ensure that the handling of food is correct and that the right measures are in place to prevent cross-contamination.

As part of checking food management systems, they will want to see that the correct labelling and recording of items is in place, including looking at supply and delivery, the traceability of the food and the training of staff.

Important laws surrounding food safety in England

As well as the Food Safety Act 1990, there are a number of other laws in place that cover the issue of food safety. The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013 outlines general food safety provisions, which relate to the control and management for steps critical to food safety and the cleanliness of both the premises and the equipment being used. It also looks at issues including temperature control, hygienic food handling practices, food hygiene and waste disposal.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 controls how food businesses must legally supply information to their customers regarding any food that they have produced, sold or served, and is particularly concerned with ensuring that the correct allergen information is given.

In 2016, Natasha Laperouse died aged just 15 after suffering a serious anaphylactic allergic reaction to a baguette that she ate from a café. Despite knowing what her allergies were, the packaging of the baguette failed to identify the ingredients of the product and so she ate something which she believed to be safe.

This led to the creation of Natasha’s Law, which finally came into force in October 2021 and now requires all food vendors to provide a full list of ingredients on any pre-packaged food to try and prevent something so tragic from happening again. It is important to remember that the responsibility for correct labelling falls to both the vendor and the supplier.

When looking at workplace catering, it is essential to ensure that all food safety laws are adhered to, wherever the food is prepared. This is to be absolutely certain that all laws and regulations have been followed, best practice is in place and the food being served is safe and free from harm as well as delicious.

Browse Workplace Refreshments Today

Not only are our products of high-quality, but we also ensure we follow strict guidelines to ensure you receive food and drink that meets legal requirements so you can rest assured the produce you’re supplying your workforce is safe – and delicious! Browse our full range of wholesale vending supplies at Workplace Refreshments.