Food preparation businesses in the hospitality sector include hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, sandwich shops and similar businesses that prepare food for customers to eat on premises or for takeaway including those premises indirectly involved in food preparation and service. A key requirement for these businesses is to show that food handling and preparation processes are safe and to keep documentation to show this.

Good food hygiene ensures that food prepared for customers is safe to eat. It prevents harmful microorganisms that can cause serious illness from contaminating food, prevents cross contamination, enables businesses to comply with the law, and protects the reputation of the business.

Food Service and manufacturing regulatory authorities in different parts of the globe has analysed epidemiological data on food poisoning outbreaks and found that five major risk factors occur repeatedly:

Improper food-holding temperatures

Inadequate cooking

Contaminated equipment

Food from unsafe sources

Poor personal hygiene

Food hygiene authorities can visit business premises to inspect them to check for compliance with legal requirements. It can include taking samples for scientific analysis and inspecting records. This can result in:

A formal request to improve any failings

A legal notice stating what actions must be taken, or what processes, equipment or premises must not be used

Prosecution for serious failings to comply with the law

In some countries, such as the UK, authorities issue hygiene ratings that are made public or even displayed on the front of the premises, which can improve or damage business reputations, and provides added incentive to produce food of high quality.

In the EU the main legislation controlling food safety practices is Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, which is the basis for each member country’s local regulations.

In the US the FDA publishes the FDA Food Code as a best advice for voluntary adoption by local, state and federal organisations with compliance responsibilities for food service, retail food stores, or food vending operations.

Australia and New Zealand are governed by the Food Standards Code. A new Code came into effect on 1 March 2016. This had no major changes, but brought the code up to date with national and state legislation and reworded parts to make requirements clearer, such as who has to comply with specific parts of the Code.

Legislation is aimed to ensure premises are clean and well maintained, they are designed to allow adequate cleaning, have enough space for working, allow maintenance of good hygiene, food preparation practices prevent contamination e.g., from dirt, disease-causing organisms and pests, and food can be stored safely and cross contamination is prevented.

First step to any Food safety and HACCP practice in food businesses is Food Safety and HACCP training to commensurate with work activities being carried out by the food worker. www.haccptrainingonline.ie offers training at various levels in accordance with FSAI `s guide to Food Safety and HACCP training.