What are the Fundamental Principles of Food Safety and Hygiene?

The fundamental principles of food safety and hygiene can be considered as cleaning, cross-contamination, chilling and cooking. As a food business, it is important to uphold principles such as these to ensure your food practice is safe and hygienic, which will reflect positively on your organisation.

Some of the fundamental principles for food safety and food hygiene are: Cleaning, Cross-contamination, Chilling and Cooking. These four principles can help to guide those handling, producing, serving and selling food to consumers in the UK, to do so safely and hygienically. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) are responsible for protecting consumer health regarding food businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The FSA ensure that food practices are safe and hygienic, and therefore it is important to understand the fundamental principles of food safety and hygiene.

The Fundamental Principles of Food Safety and Food Hygiene:


Ensure that you clean and disinfect the area and equipment which is going to be used thoroughly. Make sure this is done between each cooking task which takes place, and before you start the day and finish the day.

Ensure you have high personal hygiene standards if you are handling food, for example your hands are thoroughly washed, clothes are clean, hair is tied back and gloves are worn when handling food.


Cross-contamination occurs when pathogens from one type of food transfers to another type of food, which should be kept separate.

Hands, equipment and surfaces can allow germs to spread between foods. Ensure that equipment and surfaces are thoroughly cleaned between foods which must be kept separate. For example, raw meat and vegetables should be kept separate when stored away, and the equipment used between preparing these types of food must be washed thoroughly in between.


If food needs to be chilled, it must be kept between the temperature of 0°C and 5°C. Therefore, refrigerators should be set at 3°C or 4°C.

Frozen food must be frozen as soon as it is delivered and before the use-by date has passed. When de-frosting you can use the defrost setting on a microwave, or ideally you can place it in the fridge, where it is at a safe temperature while defrosting, or in a sealed container under cold running water. You must ensure that food is thoroughly defrosted, unless a manufacturer has advised you to cook from frozen.


When cooking, you must ensure food reaches a core temperature of 75°C or 70°C for at least 2 minutes, and therefore all bacteria will be killed off safely.

When cooking raw meat, ensure that juices run clear, there’s no pink meat left, and it has reached a core temperature of 75°C or 70°C for at least 2 minutes. A clean thermometer or probe will allow you to check this.

If you are holding hot food back, it must be kept at 63°C or above, such as on a buffet. If food has not been used within two hours, it should either be reheated to piping hot or chilled to 8°C or below. If the food has been left out for more than two hours, it must be thrown away for safety.

Food Safety and Food Hygiene Legislation:

The Food Standards Act 1999: This Act establishes the powers and functions of the Food Standards Agency, an independent government department responsible for monitoring the conduct of the food industry.

The Food Safety Act 1990: This Act provides the framework for food-related legislation in England, Scotland and Wales. The main responsibilities for food businesses involve ensuring that food businesses don’t include anything in food which could damage the health of those eating it. Food must be served and sold with the quality that a consumer would expect, and food must be labelled and advertised properly, not in a way which could be misleading.

The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006: These regulations apply to food businesses in England, to ensure that everything carried out is done so hygienically.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK will ensure that food regulations and expectations are upheld and maintained. The FSA will investigate and subsequently bring to prosecution those who have failed to abide by food safety and hygiene expectations. This can be damaging for organisations, regarding fines, prosecution, imprisonment and bad press. Therefore, upholding the principles of food safety and hygiene is important.

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