A foodpreneur’s guide to safety and compliance
Do you run, or are you planning to launch a food business? Read our foodpreneur’s guide to safety and compliance.
There’s a lot to think about whatever type of business you decide to launch. But if you are running a food business, you have an added responsibility to ensure that you maintain strict and consistent safety standards to protect the health of your customers, and ensure your food is as safe as it is delicious.
That’s why there are so many laws and regulations in the food industry you need to abide by. There are also good practices that are important to follow to ensure you operate a healthy business, and people can feel confident in buying and consuming your products.
To help you run a successful and healthy food business, we’ve put together this foodpreneur’s guide to safety and compliance.
Packaging and labelling your food
Depending on where your business operates, there will be laws around the packaging and labelling of food that you need to adhere to.
The regulation of food labelling protects your customers by ensuring they can easily see the information they need to make an informed choice about buying or consuming your food products. This means they can choose to buy food that is safe for them, meets any requirements of their diet or personal taste, and matches their budget.
At a minimum you would expect food labelling to list all ingredients, expiry date and storage and preparation instructions. If it contains ingredients that customers may be allergic to, it is wise to highlight these so they cannot be missed.
Give warnings about food allergies
Speaking of allergies, this is such an important area that it deserves its own mention. There have been documented cases of people dying after unknowingly consuming food that contained ingredients they were allergic to, so it is essential to follow any given allergen information rules.
These can include providing customers with accurate and allergen information, and handling and managing food allergens properly in your kitchen. For example, if you are preparing food that contains nuts, it must never contaminate food that is sold as nut-free.
For this reason it is also important to let customers know that nut-free food was prepared in a kitchen where nuts are present, so state this on your packaging. If a customer has a serious nut allergy, they will then know to avoid food prepared in the same area as nuts.
Be wary of contaminants
Accidental allergens aren’t the only potential contaminant that can get into your food when preparing in your kitchen.
It is important to follow food hygiene rules and wear protective clothing and hairnets to avoid loose hairs finding their way into your products. It’s also essential to ensure other, more dangerous contaminants don’t accidentally fall into your food.
When transporting large quantities of ingredients in your kitchen, using dump buggies can ensure cleanliness and minimize the risk of contamination, as they are easy to sanitize and maintain.
Metal fragments, pieces of glass, bits of bone, plastic shards and other contaminants that can be detected by food x-ray can sometimes be found in a kitchen after an accident, or through careless preparation, and you really don’t want them to find their way into your food.
So make sure you are fastidious about cleaning up, and ensure any food preparation surfaces are clean, clear and uncluttered before you start work.
Use additives safely
If you use an additive in your food, you must ensure you only only use an approved additive according to it conditions of use, and only use it in foods it is approved for.
If you are unsure about which additives you can use, and when, make sure you check with a reputable source before proceeding.
Find the right suppliers
The quality and safety of your food also depends on the standards maintained by the suppliers you use. So make sure you only buy from trusted suppliers who will ensure that the products they provide you with have been stored, processed and handled correctly.
And when you take delivery of food, check that any chilled or frozen food is cold enough, the packaging has not been damaged, and that it is exactly what you ordered. Sometimes alternative options or different brands may have different ingredients, or react differently when prepared.
If you think that any food hasn’t been handled safely or is not good quality, refrain from using it contact your supplier straight away.
Keep records of your orders
It is important to keep records of any food you order, so it can be traced if required. And in the event a problem is found with a supplier or food, you can easily and immediately withdraw this food from preparation and sale.
Also, if you notice an ingredient isn’t up to standard or has a problem, you can quickly identify the rest of the batch and isolate it all.
You need to keep a record of all the suppliers you use for food and ingredients, and all the businesses you supply with food or ingredients.
Your records should include the name and address of your suppliers and the businesses you are supplying, the type of and quantity of the products, and the dates of transaction and delivery.
You also need to keep a record of any batch numbers, invoices and receipts of food products you have bought.
Make sure your records are always up-to-date and easily available for any inspection, as they could be checked if there is a safety problem with food you have sold.
Make sure you run a safe food business
It is always important to keep good records and maintain safety standards in any business. But as the owner of a food business you have an extra responsibility.
Your customers need to trust that they food they buy from you is delicious and safe to eat. And by following the right food hygiene rules, you give them – and you – that confidence.
It also means you can operate your business with a clear conscience. And if anything does go wrong, you have access to records that will ensure you can take action quickly, and exonerate your business if needed.