The consequences of poor food hygiene practices can be serious, including health repercussions for those who have consumed the produced food, and serious legal action which will be taken against those responsible for conducting poor food hygiene practices. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) are an independent Government department which aim to protect public health when it comes to food. The FSA investigate food businesses who have been using poor food hygiene practices and prosecute them with the help of local authorities. Therefore, it is important to understand the consequences for poor food hygiene practices.
Poor food hygiene practices
The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 set out the legal obligations relating to food businesses, which ensure that food is prepared, produced and served to customers safely and hygienically. Poor food hygiene practices will breach these regulations, such as the following:
- Undercooking food, resulting in bacteria remaining on food because the core temperature has not reached 75°C or 70°C for 2 minutes.
- Leaving food out for too long, allowing bacteria to multiply in ideal growth conditions.
- Storing food incorrectly, such as failing to refrigerate foods between the temperature of 0°C and 5°C. Refrigerators should be set at 3°C or 4°C to ensure food is refrigerated properly.
- Cross contaminating food with utensils and equipment used for foods which should be separated.
- Poor personal hygiene of those handling the food, including unclean hands, unclean clothes and hair which is not tied back properly.
What are the consequences of poor food hygiene practices?
Poor food hygiene practice will lead to those consuming the food to become severely ill, most likely with food poisoning. Food poisoning can normally be treated at home, treating symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. However, serious food poisoning can require important medical attention.
Gastroenteritis can be caused by the norovirus and bacterial food poisoning, which results in serious vomiting and diarrhoea. When there are large groups of people together, gastroenteritis can spread easily and cause mass illness.
Therefore, poor food hygiene practices do not just affect those who consume food – food poisoning can also be passed on to those who come into contact with sick people, making it a serious health issue.
If your poor hygiene practice has led to the contamination of food, you will have to pull back a range of different food products which have been contaminated, to stop individuals consuming them and subsequently becoming ill.
Poor hygiene practices will be heavily scrutinised and judged in the UK. Therefore, the media and press will circulate the latest stories regarding poor food hygiene practices, which will result in a loss of respect for a food business.
Reduced Staff Morale
Those working for a food business which is unclean and practicing unhygienic food practices will begin to look elsewhere for work which is respectable and isn’t going to cause customers harm. Encouraging employees to work in unhygienic conditions will result in reduced morale.
The FSA establish the regulations which food businesses are obliged to follow with regard to their food practices. Therefore, if a food business is suspected of poor food hygiene practices, they will be investigated by the FSA and the local authorities.
The FSA investigate 600,000 food business in the UK and check that their food products are what they say they are, and that they have been produced properly. The FSA can bring firms who have demonstrated poor hygiene standards to prosecution, and if convicted these food businesses can face fines, closure, bad press and sometimes imprisonment.
In January 2018, the restaurant director of Kosk Restaurant Ltd in Edmonton, London, was fined £8,653 for 5 food and hygiene offences. Despite them being inspected in 2016 and 2017, the restaurant showed no improvement in their poor food hygiene procedures. Consequently, the director was fined in 2018 for not dealing with cross contamination risks, having poor food safety procedures in place and no food hygiene training.
Food hygiene is of the utmost importance in the UK and therefore understanding the consequences for poor food hygiene standards is essential.