Food Safety Management for Businesses

Under food legislation, all food businesses operators require to put in place, implement and maintain food safety management procedures based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).

A food safety management system based on HACCP principles builds on the everyday awareness of the business owner.  This helps to generate a system that encourages safe food production and gives peace of mind to the business owners.

Food businesses in Scotland need to be sure what to do to control the risk of food being contaminated by E.coli O157, to protect their customers. This Cross-contamination Guidance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) will help you understand what you need to do. You can find out more on control of cross-contamination on the Food Standards Agency (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.

When any modification is made in the product, process, or any step, food business operators shall review the procedure and make the necessary changes to it.

At first glance this can appear quite complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.  There are standard systems and pro-formas available to help businesses comply with this requirement, some of which are detailed below.

CookSafe, RetailSafe and ButcherSafe

Food Standards Scotland Local Authority Information & Guidance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

CookSafe is designed to help catering businesses understand and implement a HACCP-based system. By reading this manual and following the instructions, you will be able to develop HACCP-based procedures that fit your needs.

RetailSafe has been designed for retailers handling unwrapped high-risk foods. It has been designed to assist with compliance with the food hygiene regulations and is built on the CookSafe approach and structure.

ButcherSafe is for UK butchers who handle or produce both raw and ready-to-eat food. The manual places strong emphasis on the control and protection of ready-to-eat food.  It is designed to assist butchers understand and implement a HACCP based system, and by reading the manual and following the instructions, butchers will be able to develop procedures which fit their needs, keep food safe and comply with the law.

The documents mentioned above are available to download on the Food Standards Scotland Website (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

Safer Food, Better Business

Safer Food, Better Business (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (SFBB) is the Food Standards Agency’s version of Cooksafe for businesses in England and Wales. Although not developed with businesses based in Scotland in mind, it provides an innovative and practical approach to food safety management which may also be of use for some businesses.

There are a number of SFBB packs available that are designed to meet the specific needs of different food businesses. There are packs for small catering businesses, small retail businesses, and restaurants and takeaways that serve different cuisines, such as Chinese or Indian. There is also a pack for childminders and a supplement for care homes that is designed to be used with the pack for caterers.

HACCP for Home Caterers and Producers

The laws on food safety apply just the same to a business run from home as they do to all other commercial premises. A major requirement of the food safety legislation is that food business operators carry out a “hazard analysis” of their business to highlight where the potential risks are likely to occur and more importantly how these risks will be controlled.  It is a requirement to document this process.  The amount of documentation needed will depend on the size and type of the business.

You may find the following useful as a basic HACCP document:
Hazard Analysis For Home Cake Makers and General Home Caterers (130.3kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) 

HACCP for Producers/Manufacturers

MyHACCP (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is an online tool developed by the Food Standards Agency which is aimed at small food manufacturing businesses in the UK, although businesses in other food sectors may find it useful. It can be used to guide businesses through the process of identifying food safety hazards and controls and the production of a documented food safety management system based on HACCP principles.

There is also detailed guidance available on How to Develop a HACCP (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) for certain types of food businesses on the European Commission website.

More information for manufacturers can be found on the Food Standards Scotland (Manufacturers) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.

Vacuum Packing of Chilled Foodstuffs

A number of local producers/manufacturers use vacuum packing machines and they should consider the particular risk of Clostridium botulinum.

The Food Standards Agency Vacuum Packaging (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) pages provide guidance in order to help minimise the risk of Clostridium botulinum in vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods. The guidance is designed to assist small manufacturers, retailers and others assess the risks.

Although vacuum packing techniques are used to increase the shelf-life of chilled foods by removing air, certain bacteria including C. botulinum are still able to grow. C. botulinum is a bacterium that can produce a very harmful toxin that can cause a fatal form of food poisoning. It is therefore important that appropriate controls are in place to keep the food safe.

Although aimed at enforcement officers there is a useful online Training Course (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) on the vacuum packing and modified atmosphere packing of food available through the Food Standards Agency.

Food Safety for Farmers Markets and Similar Businesses

The information in Farmers Market Guidance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is designed not only to help market traders and organisers meet food safety requirements, but also to assist traders in the correct labelling of their products to comply with food labelling requirements.

The guide remains applicable to similar events such as car boot sales, fetes, agricultural shows and continental markets.