Food safety

1.  Introduction

The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and the Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995 exist to minimise risks of food contamination and to maintain food safety. They apply to departments and institutions which sell or prepare food for sale to employees and others and for consumption at meetings, conferences etc. The Regulations regard these departments and institutions as proprietors of food businesses.

2.   Requirements of good hygiene require proprietors of food businesses to ensure that:

(a)  Premises, rooms, equipment, vending machines, conveyances and containers used for the transport of food are suitable and where appropriate maintained in good repair and condition;

(b)  Food handlers are properly trained; 

(c)  Where there is risk to food safety, only potable water is used; 

(d)  Food waste is put for disposal in a timely way, within closable containers which are easy to clean and disinfect, and which are kept in suitable areas.

A synopsis of the standards required to achieve these objectives is contained in the appendix.

(e)  The steps in the activities of the business which are critical to ensuring food safety are identified by carrying out hazard analysis and committing this to writing. (Hazard analysis is regarded as the same as risk assessment.)

3.   Requirements for temperature control:

(a)  Chill holding - food which is likely to support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the formation of toxins must be kept at a temperature of  8oC or below;

(b)  Exemptions from 3 (a) above are:

(i)  Food which has been cooked or reheated, is for servicing or on display for sale, and needs to be kept hot in order to control the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the formation of toxins;

(ii)  Food which, for the duration of its shelf life, may be kept at ambient temperatures with no risk to health;

(iii)  Food which is being or has been subjected to a process such as dehydration or canning intended to prevent the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms at ambient temperatures, but this exemption does not apply in circumstances where after or by virtue of that process the food was contained in a hermetically sealed container, and that container had been opened;

(iv)  Food which must be ripened or matured at ambient temperatures, but this exemption does not apply once the process of ripening or maturation is completed;

(v)  Raw food intended for further processing (which includes cooking) before human consumption, but only if that processing, if undertaken correctly, will render that food fit for human consumption;

(vi)  Food which is supplied with written instructions concerning keeping the food at or below a specified temperature between 8oC and ambient temperatures and for a period not exceeding a specified shelf life.

(c)  Chill holding tolerance periods:

(i)  When food is being kept for the first time for service or on display for sale it may be at a temperature above 8oC (or the recommended temperature) for a period of less than 4 hours;

(ii)  When food is being transferred to or from a vehicle or when for an unavoidable reason, such as handling during preparation, defrosting of equipment, or temporary breakdown of equipment, the food may be kept at a temperature above 8oC (or recommended temperature) for a limited period consistent with food safety.

(d)  Hot holding requirements:

(i)  Food which had been cooked or reheated or is for servicing or on display for sale and needs to be kept hot in order to control growth of pathogenic micro-organisms, must be kept at a temperature of 63oC or above;

(ii)  There is an exemption from the hot holding requirement if well founded scientific evidence show that a temperature below 63oC for a specified period is consistent with food safety.

(e)  Hot holding tolerance period:

(i)  When food is being kept for the first time for service or on display for sale it may be at a temperature below 63oC for a period of less than 2 hours.

(f)  General temperature requirements:

(i)  Foodstuffs which are raw materials, ingredients, intermediate products or finished products and likely to support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the formation of toxins must be kept at temperatures which are consistent with food safety.  However, limited periods outside temperature control are permitted where necessary to accommodate the practicalities of handling during preparation, transport, storage, display and service of food.

(g)  Cooling of food:

(i)  When food is required to be kept at a temperature below ambient temperature and requires cooling to that temperature, the food must be cooled as quickly as possible following the final heating process or the final preparation stage.

4.   Action required by departments and institutions which are proprietors of food businesses or where food businesses operate:

(i)  Where a department/institution is a proprietor of a food business, a trained person must be nominated to carry out the hazard analysis, commit it to writing and review it as and when required and at least annually. Records of regular temperature checks of appropriate food and equipment will be integral to hazard analysis;

(ii)  Where subcontractors are proprietors of food businesses within departments/ institutions they must be required by way of the contract to submit a detailed food safety audit report on an annual basis to the contract initiator.

THIS STATEMENT FORMS PART OF THE UNIVERSITY SAFETY POLICY.  UNIVERSITY GUIDANCE NOTES S8/95 AND S1/96 ARE WITHDRAWN.  PLEASE AMEND THE INDEX.

November 2004