The Food Safety Act 1990 essentially provides a framework for the food hygiene and food safety legislation in England, Wales and Scotland. The responsibilities which food businesses have regarding the safety of food is established in this Act. "Food businesses" refers to businesses which prepare, store, transport, label, handle, serve and sell foods. This encompasses a huge range of businesses across England, Wales and Scotland. Therefore, it is important to be aware of whether the Food Safety Act 1990 applies to you and what this Act means.
Responsibilities for food businesses under the Food Safety Act 1990:
- Food businesses must not include anything in the food which they produce or remove anything from food which could result in harm to the consumer's health.
- Food businesses must sell food to consumers in the standard, nature, substance and quality which the consumer would expect.
- Food businesses must ensure that the food which they produce is labelled, advertised and presented in a way which is not misleading to consumers.
Who does the Food Safety Act 1990 apply to?
The Food Safety Act 1990 applies to all businesses which essentially deal with food through the food production journey, from storing, labelling and transporting, to serving food to consumers for them to eat. Therefore, the act applies to a range of food businesses across the country, from cafes and restaurants to catering companies.
How to comply with the Food Safety Act 1990
Food businesses must implement procedures which will ensure all employees know how to handle food safely. These procedures must establish personal hygiene standards for food handlers, cleaning and sanitation procedures of the workplace, understanding how food safety could be compromised, and how to maintain these procedures.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have the power to get involved in certain emergency situations, where it is suspected that the food business is not complying with food safety procedures. An Indian restaurant in Tynemouth, Newcastle upon Tyne, was fined £3,767 for serving a meal containing peanuts to a consumer with a nut allergy. This was following the employees assuring the consumer that the meal was nut-free and assured the family upon their booking that the nut allergy would be accommodated for.
Shortly after starting to eat the meal, the consumer started to experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, which involved their tongue beginning to tingle and swell. The consumer who experienced the allergic reaction was given adrenaline to reduce the serious effects of the allergic reaction. The food business was found guilty of breaching Section 14 (1) of the Food Safety Act 1990 and was also ordered to pay £2,744 in costs and £1,000 in compensation. Along with fines, the business will receive bad publicity for not maintaining food safety. This demonstrates how seriously breaches of the Food Safety Act 1990 can affect food businesses.
Therefore, food businesses must comply with the Food Safety Act 1990 to ensure the health and safety of consumers is protected.