Food Hygiene Guide For Businesses

This guide is for restaurants and other food service businesses, as well as shops selling food. It informs you about good food hygiene practice, which is essential for you to obey the law and protect your business by selling food that is to safe to eat. It also explains these key laws that affect your food business, including what these laws require and how they are enforced.

Food Hygiene

Good food hygiene is necessary for you to prepare or sell food that is safe for consumption. It is important for you and your staff to understand what good hygiene is and to follow the advice and procedures given here.

To highlight the importance of good food hygiene, here are some of the things it allows your business to do:

  • Obey the law
  • Reduce the risk of food poisoning among customers
  • Maintain a good reputation for your business

The key to good food hygiene is controlling harmful bacteria, which can cause serious illness. The four main things to remember for food hygiene are:

  • Chilling
  • Cross-Contamination
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking

Known as the 4 C's, these proper use of these concepts will help you prevent the most common food safety problems.


Properly chilling food helps prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Some food needs to be kept chilled to keep it safe. Examples of this include cooked dishes, ready-to-eat food such as desserts and prepared salads, and food with a 'use by' date. It is important not to leave such food standing around at room temperature. For proper chilling procedures, make sure you do the following:

  • Check regularly that your fridge and display units are cold enough.
  • Make sure chilled food on delivery is cold enough.
  • If you take chilled food out of the fridge, only keep it out for the shortest time possible during preparation.
  • Food that needs to be chilled should be put in the fridge straight away.
  • Cool cooked food as quickly as possible and then put it in the fridge.


Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread between food, kitchen equipment, or surfaces. It is most likely to happen when raw food comes into contact with ready-to-eat food, equipment, or surfaces. Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Take the following steps to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Always wash your hands before preparing food.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment, chopping boards, and work surfaces thoroughly before you start preparing food and after you have used them to prepare raw food.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching any raw food.
  • Use different equipment for raw meat/poultry and ready-to-eat food unless they can be heat disinfected in. Such as a commercial dishwasher, for example.
  • Make sure your staff know the steps to avoid cross-contamination. Emphasize its importance.
  • Keep raw food apart from ready-to-eat food at all times, including packaging material for ready-to-eat food.
  • Store raw food below ready-to-eat food in the fridge. If possible, use separate fridges for the two.
  • Separate cleaning materials should be used in areas where ready-to-eat foods are stored, prepared, and handled. Such cleaning materials include sponges, mops, and cloths.
  • Provide separate storage areas, working areas, clothing, and staff for the handling of ready-to-eat food.
  • Use separate equipment and machinery such as slicers, mincers, and vacuum packing machines, for raw and ready-to-eat food.


Effective cleaning gets rid of bacteria on hands, surfaces, and kitchen equipment. This helps stop harmful bacteria from getting onto food. You should take the following steps for effective cleaning:

  • Do not let food waste accumulate.
  • Clean and clear as you go. Clear away spilt food, used equipment, etc. as you work. Be sure to clean work surfaces thoroughly.
  • Make sure that all your staff always wash and dry their hands thoroughly before handling food.
  • Clean and disinfect food areas and equipment between different tasks. Do this especially after handling raw food.
  • Use cleaning and disinfection products that are suitable for the job while also making sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Disinfection products should meet BS EN standards. Check product labels for either of the following codes: BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697.


Cooking food in a thorough manner kills harmful bacteria. So it is very important to make sure that you are cooking food properly. When cooking or reheating, always make sure that it is steaming hot all the way through. Being thorough when cooking is especially important when cooking poultry, pork, rolled joints, and products made from minced meat such as sausages and burgers. This is because there could be bacteria in the middle of these products. They should be hot all the way through and should not be served pink or rare. Whole cuts of beef or lamb, such as cutlets, whole joints, or steaks can be served rare/pink as long as they are fully sealed on the outside.

Good Food Hygiene and Business

If you supply or serve food direct to the public, you may be covered by the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. This allows your business to be inspected and given a hygiene rating from '0' at the minimum to '5' at the maximum, based on the hygiene standards found at the time. You will be provided with a sticker/certificate indicating your rating or result. These can be displayed to show your customers how good your hygiene standards are.


What The Law Requires

The most important food hygiene regulations to note for your business are:

  • Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs
  • The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended) (and equivalent regulations in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland)

These regulations set out the basic requirements for all aspects of your food business, from your facilities and premises to your staff's personal hygiene.

One of the key requirements of the regulations is that you must be able to show your procedure of making or selling food that is safe to eat and have this written down. Described below are details of these food safety management procedures.

Food Safety Management

You must implement 'food safety management procedures' based on the principles of hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP). You must also do the following:

  • Keep up-to-date records and documents related to your procedures
  • Review your procedures if make any adjustments to what you do or how you work

This essentially means that you must have procedures in place to manage food safety 'hazards' in your business. You must have these procedures written down and updated as needed. You must also keep accurate records that can be checked by your local authority.

The regulations are designed to be flexible according to size of your business and the type of work you do. This means that a small business will likely have very simple procedures and records.


What is HACCP?

It is a method of managing food safety. The system is based on implementing procedures to control hazards. It involves:

  • Deciding what actions need to be taken if something goes wrong
  • Making sure that your procedures are working
  • Looking closely at your business and what could possibly go wrong
  • Identifying the 'critical control points' which are the places you need to focus on for the prevention of hazards, possibly reducing them to an acceptable level

HACCP doesn't have to be as complicated as some people think. The important thing is to have food safety procedures in place that are appropriate for your business.

What are hazards?

A hazard is something that could be considered dangerous. There are lots of different hazards. When we discuss hazards in relation to food, we are indicating something that could make food unsafe to eat. Food safety hazards can be:

  • Physical: Objects getting into food, e.g. broken pieces of glass
  • Chemical: Chemicals getting into food, e.g. cleaning products
  • Microbiological: Harmful bacteria

Registering Your Business

You must register your business premises with your local authority. If you are opening a new business premises, register it at least 28 days before opening. The use of premises in more than one place requires you to register all of them. You must also:

  • Inform your local authority if what you do in your business changes significantly
  • Make sure your local authority always has up-to-date information in relation to your premises

Your premises includes all of the buildings or rooms you use in your business. Your premises must be kept clean and maintained in good condition and repair. The size, design, site, layout, and construction of your premises must allow for adequate maintenance, cleaning, and/or disinfection. You must also avoid or minimise airborne contamination, among other general regulations. Other key aspects that your business must have in adequate accommodation include:

  • Hand washing facilities and toilets
  • Ventilation
  • Lighting
  • Ample working space to carry out all tasks in a hygienic manner

Food Waste

Food waste must be removed, along with other rubbish, from rooms where food is present. You must do this as quickly as possible, to avoid them building up. Put food waste and other rubbish in containers that can be closed, and these containers must be of appropriate construction and kept in sound condition. You must make sure the waste is not a direct or indirect source of contamination.


Training is important because food businesses must make sure that any staff who handle food are instructed and supervised in food hygiene. The person or people responsible for developing and maintaining the food safety management procedures must have received adequate training to enable them to do this.

Enforcement of The Law

Your local authority is responsible for enforcing food hygiene laws. To do this, enforcement officers may visit your business premises for inspection. These officers may visit for a routine inspection or as the result of a complaint. Enforcement officers have the right to enter and inspect your premises at any reasonable time. They will usually come without telling you first.

Officers can take 'enforcement action' to protect the public when they think it is necessary. Such action can include:

  • Inspecting your records
  • Taking samples of food
  • Writing you a letter requesting you to put right any problems
  • Recommending a prosecution in serious cases

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