Food safety rules and regulations

August 21, 2021
Cedric Seguela

In this blog post we will give you a quick overview of Food safety rules and regulations.

European Law Regulation EC 852/2004.

This law was devised in 2004 and all food businesses in European Union countries are required to follow the regulation EC 852/2004 of the European Parliament.

The regulation is in place to ensure the control of the registration of all food businesses with their local council. Any food safety management system, for example, HACCP, which has Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. Any premises that food is handled, the equipment the food handler uses adhere to food safety regulations and ensure records are kept up to date, and last but not least, the training in place for food handlers.

Food Law Code of Practice (England) 2017

It is the most current law which came into force on the 30th of March 2017. The law gives statutory guidance, which local authorities must follow and implement the relevant provisions of the code when dealing with the enforcement of food laws.

Changes to the code include providing additional guidance on the communication of food incidents and hazards and addressing food criminality, consistent interpretation and approach by local authority offices delivering official controls, and additional clarifying and competency requirements of local authority offices since the implementation of the previous code.

Food Hygiene Rating Schemes

The scheme that is used in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is known as the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, FHRS. It is a six-point scoring system, zero to five being the highest.

The scheme used in Scotland is known as the Food Hygiene Information Scheme, FHIS. It is a two-point scoring system with Pass or Improvement Required. It rates hygiene standards against legal requirements.

A separate Eat Safe Award scheme recognizes businesses that achieve standards over and above the legal requirements in Scotland.

Environmental Health Officers, EHOs, and Trading Standards Officers, TSOs, are employed by the local authorities to enforce food safety laws. They have the authority to enter food establishments at any time to carry out food safety inspections, investigate complaints of outbreaks of potential food poisoning, make recommendations to ensure good food practice, and provide advice to food business owners.

An Environmental Health Officer may issue a Hygiene Improve Notice. Failure to comply with the advice of improvements required by set date is an offense. If they issue a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, it will mean that they will be unable to use all or part of the equipment being used with immediate effect. If they issue a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order, this means that the Environmental Health Officer can order this notice by court if the establishment needs to be closed permanently.

So, to recap, please remember the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme operates in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The Food Hygiene Information Scheme operates in Scotland. Remember, an Environmental Health Officer can issue a Hygiene Improvement Notice, a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice, or finally a Hygiene Prohibition Order if required.


It is essential that food handlers are given the necessary training so that they understand their responsibilities. Regular formal training should be undertaken and certified for each member of staff. It should be recorded by the employer or supervisor and reminders given to refresh their knowledge.

If the food handler is the person dealing with the business’ food safety system then it is recommended for them to participate in training giving them knowledge in HACCP, which stands for Hazard, Analysis and Critical Control Points.

The seven steps of HACCP that must be followed are:

  • Step one, conduct a hazard analysis. Establish what could go wrong at every stage and necessary controls in place.
  • Step two, identifying critical control points, CCPs. This is where you recognize the most important points where things go wrong.
  • Step three, set critical limits for each CCP. This means to set a measurable limit that will determine the food safe from food that is potentially unsafe.
  • Step four is to set up checks for each CCP. This means to monitor each CCP to prevent complications from arising.
  • Step five is to take corrective action. This means you should decide what to do if something goes wrong.
  • Step six is verification. This is to ensure that you are able to prove your HACCP plan is working correctly and relevant actions have been taken if needed.
  • Last, but not least, step seven is record keeping, ensuring that you maintain an accurate record of all the steps you have put into place and applied as necessary.

The HACCP principles have been installed and developed into other Food Safety Management Systems. They have been designed to help small to medium sized catering organizations and retailers to comply with current legislation.

There is the Safer Food Better Business Guide, which is used in England and Wales. There is the CookSafe guide for caterers that is used in Scotland. The Safe Catering Guide was developed and is used by the food standards agency in northern Ireland.

This CPD recognized e-learning course provides the level of information you require for the Food Safety Level 2 certification. You must ensure it is updated within three years.


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