Food Safety FAQs

Our food safety FAQs cover legal responsibilities and best practice for managing food safety in the workplace.

What are the major food hygiene hazards?

The major hygiene hazards include:

  • Microbiological – including bacteria, yeasts and moulds.
  • Physical – objects which could contaminate the food such as glass or hair.
  • Chemical – harmful substances including pesticides or machinery oil.
  • Allergens – An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction which is harmful to the recipient.

These hazards could result in food poisoning or allergic reactions.

Is food hygiene training a legal requirement?

It is a legal requirement for food business operators to ensure food handlers receive appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene.

What are food hygiene practices?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a way of managing food safety hazards in a food business. Food safety management procedures should be based on HACCP principles. It is essential that good practices are undertaken so food is fit for consumption, including good personal hygiene, food storage, preparation and thorough cleaning of preparation areas.

What are food hygiene ratings?

Food hygiene rating is a way to standardise food hygiene levels within food businesses. These ratings are given by the local authority following the Food Standard Agency scheme, which indicates whether the business is keeping to the standards required by law.

How long do food training certificates last?

Food safety certificates do not expire as they are not a legal requirement. However, it is considered best practice as it demonstrates your commitment to food safety e.g. employees having suitable training and knowledge.

Who carries out food hygiene inspections?

Food hygiene inspections are carried out by Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers.

They have the right to inspect your premises at any time, and will look at the following:

  • How food is handled and prepared.
  • The condition of the premises.
  • How food safety is documented and managed.

What are the major food allergens?

There are 14 specified food allergens:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk
  • Molluscs
  • Mustard
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soya
  • Sulphur Dioxide

What are the allergic reactions a person can have?

People can either experience a minor or major allergic reaction.

Symptoms of minor allergic reactions include:

  • Runny or blocked nose.
  • Itchy, sore eyes.
  • Vomiting / diarrhoea.
  • Swelling in the eyes, lips or tongue.
  • Rash or cracked skin.

Symptoms of major allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) include:

  • Struggling to breathe
  • Becoming unconscious
  • Swelling of the throat or mouth

Why should you use different utensils for different foods?

To avoid cross-contamination, workspaces should be regularly cleaned and different utensils should be used when preparing certain foods.

Other ways to prevent cross-contamination include regularly washing hands, have colour coded chopping boards to differentiate between foods and wash fruits and vegetables during preparation.

What is cross-contact and cross-contamination?

Cross-contact happens when one food with an allergen touches another food and the allergen is then transferred to the other food.

Cross-contamination is when bacteria is accidentally transferred from one food to another. Cross-contamination can lead to foodborne illnesses, whereas cross-contact can lead to an allergic reaction.

Where do I find allergen information on labels?

Allergens in food should be clearly highlighted when listed alongside other ingredients, such as by using bold type or underlining allergens.

Should I train staff about food contamination?

The Food Standards Agency states that staff handling food are supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene, and undertake relevant training.

Is an allergy the same as an intolerance?

A food intolerance is when someone has difficulty digesting certain foods or ingredients. This can cause symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea or skin irritation.

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts unusually to specific food, causing anything from mild to life threatening symptoms.

Is there a cure for food allergies?

There are currently no cures for food allergies. However, there are treatments for some allergies, and many children grow out of certain ones such as allergies to milk or eggs.