Food safety

Registration of a Food Business

All food business operators are required by law to register their food premises with the local authority. Registration allows food safety officers to keep an up-to-date list of all food premises in their area so we can visit them when we need to. The frequency of the visits will depend on the type of business.

If you run a food business in Newry and Mourne District Council area you must tell us about any premises you use for storing, selling, distributing or preparing food. If you are not sure whether you need to register your business you should contact the Food Safety Team on 02830313100.

If you use vehicles for your food business in connection with permanent premises such as a shop, or warehouse, you only need to tell the local authority how many vehicles you have. You do not need to register each vehicle separately. If you have one or more vehicles but no permanent premises, you must tell the authority where they are normally kept.

Anyone starting a new food business must register with the local authority at least 28 days before trading.

To register your business please download the registration form (link to downloadable form) and forward to this department. Alternatively you can visit the office and complete the form.

Investigation of Food Poisoning

This department will investigate suspected outbreaks or individual cases of food poisoning.

Such information is received in the following ways:

contact from a person who has become ill

  • notification from the Public Health Agency
  • a food business seeking advice
  • contact with another Local Authority who had a large function in their area.

IIf a person is reported as suffering from a food poisoning bacteria, they will be interviewed to try to establish a likely source and a full food history will be taken of the last 72 hours.

If they have not already visited their doctor we will advise them to contact their doctor and to submit a faecal specimen to try to identify the bacteria causing the illness.

We may visit any premises suspected of having caused the illness. The action taken may range from advice for that business to a possible prosecution depending upon what is found at the premises.

In certain casesillness can spread quickly, partly because everyone in the family could have eaten the same food and partly because the bacteria may be picked up by close family contact (e.g. nursing the sick). Viruses canalso cause illness, similar to food poisoning and they also spread very quickly, usually beacuse these can be spread through the air.

If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of foodpoisoning it is recommended that you follow the advice below to try andlimit the spread of the illness:

  • Wash your hands after contact with the sick person, and before handling any food or drink
  • Do not use the same towel or face cloth as someone who is suffering illness
  • Clear up spoiling accidents straightaway, wash with hot soapy water and disinfect with a disinfectant or bleach
  • Disinfect door and toilet handles, taps and the toilet seat after use and disinfect the toilet bowl frequently
  • Drink plenty of fluids while you are ill to prevent dehydration

If you feel that you or a member of your family have suffered from food poisoning please contact the Food Team on 02830313100.

Dealing with Food Complaints

Customers make complaints about food purchased in the council area. These complaints can include:

foreign bodies in food

  • unpleasant taste in food
  • poor handling of food by shop assistants
  • dirty condition of food premises
  • suspected food poisoning following eating from a food premise

What should you do with a food complaint?

  • do not remove the foreign body or food from it's container or packaging
  • if handling the food is unavoidable, handle as little as possible
  • retain all packaging and receipts
  • contact the Environmental Health Department as soon as possible
  • you will be asked for details of your complaint, where and when purchased and any illness suffered
  • store the food away from other food stuffs, preferably in a refrigerator or other cool place

When we receive a food complaint, the following action is taken:

  • the complaint is usually photographed, labelled and securely stored
  • the Officer may invite a representative of the company to visit the Council offices
  • the Officer may visit the premises which the alleged complaint has been made against
  • if the Officer deems it appropriate, the complaint will be submitted to a laboratory for analysis
  • when the investigation is complete, the Officer will contact you to explain what he intends to do

The action taken will be one of the following:

  • informal advice to the business operator
  • strong verbal or written warning
  • formal caution
  • legal proceedings

The Officer will keep you informed on the progress of your complaint and, before closing the complaint, may ask your permission for your name and address to be released to the company.

All food complaints are treated in the strictest confidence.

Please note that we will not help you in any action you may take to get compensation from the company or trader concerned. This is a matter between you and the food business and you are advised to seek legal advice from a solicitor.

Catering from Home

There are times when you may find yourself catering from home for family for example a birthday party or wedding or catering and bringing food to community centres or church halls.

If you are preparing food it is your responsibility to ensure that the food you prepare is done in a safe and hygienic manner to prevent people from becoming ill.

The following leaflet may be useful to assist you in catering from home.

www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/cateringfromhomesafely.pdf

If you plan to start a business catering from home, you should contact the food team prior to commencing business so that they can advise you on food safety matters and assess if your home is suitable.

HACCP/Food Safety Management System

HACCP(Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points): From 1 January 2006 a new legal requirements mean all food business operators must identify food safety hazards and risks relevant to their business, and put in place procedures to prevent problems.

They are also required to provide simple written evidence of the arrangements for making sure the food produced and sold to customers is safe.

Further details on haccp including the Safe Catering - Your Guide to Haccp which can be found on: http://www.food.gov.uk/northernireland/safetyhygieneni/safecateringni/ A pack has also been produced for retailers - Safer Food Better Business. In addition, packs are now also available for Chinese and Asian cuisines.

Some businesses will be required to develop their own HACCP systems where the above standard HACCP documentation does not fully cover all aspects of their business operations.

If you require any further assistance or guidance, please contact the Food Team.

Guidance on Starting up a New Food Business

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs

This guidance is based on Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 and provides advice and assistance in the design of hygienic food premises. Any alternative standards should be discussed with and approved by an Environmental Health Officer from Newry and Mourne District Council.

SURFACE FINISHES

Floors, walls, ceilings, doors, etc must be maintained in a sound condition and easy to clean. They require the use of impervious, non-absorbent, washable and non-toxic materials. Windows and other openings should be constructed to prevent the accumulation of dirt.

IIf properly installed:

Floor surfaces that would comply with this requirement include the following; flooring tiles e.g. quarry, ceramic or vinyl, vinyl safety flooring, terrazzo, cast in situ resin flooring or linoleum. You should ensure that all flooring is non-slip.

Wall surfaces can include: washable painted plaster, epoxy resin, ceramic tiles, stainless steel sheeting or PVC

Ceilings and overhead fixtures include: smooth washable painted plaster

Or suspended ceilings etc. Polystyrene or fibre ceiling tiles would not be suitable in high humidity locations.

Windows must be screened of they are to be opened into food preparation areas and are open for ventilation during food preparation.

Food preparation surfaces and worktops must be smooth and washable and can include: stainless steel, ceramics and food grade plastics. Continuous work surfaces are better than joins between work surfaces.
Alternative finishes may be acceptable in areas in which open food is not prepared, stored, treated or processed. Bare wood is unacceptable in any part of a food premises.

DESIGN AND LAYOUT

Consideration must be given to cleanability and to avoiding cross–contamination between raw and cooked foods.

  • Layout and design should allow access for maintenance and effective cleaning.
  • Moveable equipment is recommended to facilitate cleaning.
  • Avoid inaccessible areas where dirt could accumulate.
  • Allow enough space in storage and food preparation rooms to allow high-risk food to be prepared on separate work surfaces. Where necessary provide separate areas and equipment for raw meats.
  • Where necessary a separate area should be provided for dish/pot washing.
  • Suitable storage facilities for dry goods must be provided which may need ventilation.
  • Air supply must be designed so that contaminated air (from toilets, pot wash areas) is not brought into food rooms.
  • Electric fly killing units should be provided at strategic locations and must not be positioned over food preparation areas and equipment or in areas of direct sunlight. The bulbs should be shatterproof and replaced annually.

HAND WASH FACILITIES

An adequate number of wash hand basins must be provided. Each basin must have hot and cold running water, soap, and hand drying facilities (liquid soap and paper towels are desirable).

Wash hand basins are required within toilet areas and at strategic locations e.g. at the entrance to kitchens, delicatessen counters.

TOILETS

An adequate number of toilets must be provided for employees. There must be an intervening space between rooms containing sanitary conveniences and food rooms. There should be suitable and sufficient means of natural and mechanical ventilation.

Hand wash facilities are required at all toilets It is good practice to have toilets for food handlers separate form those for customers and others.

VENTILATION

All areas must be suitably and sufficiently ventilated, including dry goods stores to prevent excess humidity or heat.

Toilets must be adequately ventilated.

Areas where moisture and cooking fumes are generated for example; cooking areas, wash up areas, bakery ovens, fryers, hotplates etc. must have mechanical ventilation, extraction canopies and grease filters where necessary.

LIGHTING

Recommended levels of lighting are from 150 lux in stores to 500 lux in food preparation areas. Light fittings should be enclosed in areas where there is open food.

SINKS

All sinks must be provided with hot and cold water.

In most circumstances separate sinks should be available for the washing of food and equipment.

In small operations one sink may be used for both equipment and food washing provided it is cleaned effectively between each process and each process is carried out at a separate time.

DRAINAGE

Drains must have sufficient fall and should flow away from clean areas to dirty areas.

Appliances connected to the drainage system must be provided with an effective trap.

All sinks should discharge into an external drain must have a grease trap.

Potato peelers where used should discharge into an external sludge box.

Floor drains should only be provided where considered essential. Any such drains and grids must be capable of being effectively cleaned and contain an effective trap.

REFUSE STORAGE

All bins should have lids and arrangements made for regular removal of waste.

All bins must be capable of being cleaned regularly and disinfected periodically.

COLD STORAGE

Sufficient cold storage facilities (cold rooms, fridges, freezers) should be available for the separate storage of raw and ready to eat products. If Separate fridges are not available raw foods should be stored at the bottom of the fridge.

CHANGING FACILITIES

Separate accommodation must be provided for storage of outdoor clothing. Larger premises should be providing separate changing rooms.

OTHER LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS

HACCP–You are legally required to have a documented food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP. It will depend on the nature and size of your business what your HACCP plan will include. For further advice or assistance please contact the Environmental Health Department.

  • Registration of premises (see Guidance on Registration of a Food Business)
  • Over clothing and headwear for food handlers
  • Training of food handlers commensurate with their work activities
  • A separate cupboard for storage of cleaning chemicals

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Colour coded chopping boards for food preparation
  • Pest control contract
  • A thermometer and disinfectant wipes for temperature monitoring
  • A first aid box including waterproof detectable plasters

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Advice is also available from the Environmental Health Department regarding Health and Safety issues. Consideration must be given to use of chemicals, machinery and equipment, accessing high level cleaning etc. and appropriate training for staff.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

For the past few years there have been a number of local authorities in Northern Ireland who have piloted a scheme called ‘ Scores on the Doors’. The name of the scheme has now been changed to ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’.

FHRS will help consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets, and other places they eat out and buy food.

Under the FHRS, each food business is given a rating, which will reflect the findings of their last food hygiene inspection. The scheme will hopefully help to encourage food business operators to improve the hygiene standards within their business. The business may display their rating on their premises and the public will also be able to access the ratings through the local council website.

The scheme is ready for local councils to start adopting it, so watch this space to see when Newry and Mourne District Council will launch the scheme

For more information on the scheme please check www.food.gov.uk

New Food Allergen and Intolerance Requirements under the Food Information Regulations

The Food Information for Consumers Regulations 2014 introduces the biggest change in food labelling requirements in almost twenty years. With all food businesses including Manufacturers, restaurants, takeaways, retailers, bakeries and sandwich bars having to inform their customers if any of fourteen specific allergens are contained in the food they serve or sell.

The fourteen allergens include nuts, peanuts, egg, milk, cereals containing gluten, soya, celery, sesame, crustaceans, fish, mustard, molluscs, lupin and sulphur dioxide/Sulphites

From 13th December 2014, consumers can expect to see details of the allergens contained in the food they buy either on the label, menus, chalk boards, tickets or provided verbally by an appropriate member of staff. When ordering take-away foods, they can expect to be asked about their allergy requirements before they place their order and to be provided with further information regarding the allergies on delivery of their meal.

We have provided a number of useful links to help both businesses and customers with the new requirements.

BUSINESSES SELLING LOOSE, UNPACKAGED AND PRE-PACKED FOR DIRECT SALE

Food Allergy and Intolerance Notice

Food-Allergen-Risk-Assessment-for-Caterers

Allergen Diagram

Allergen Table (Template)

Allergen Leaflet (Simplified Chinese)

Food allergy on-line training

http://allergytraining.food.gov.uk/english/default.aspx

Allergen information for loose foods - Advice on the new Food Information Regulations for small and medium food businesses leaflet

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/publication/loosefoodsleaflet.pdf

Safe Food Video on Allergen Handling

http://www.safefood.eu/Professional/Food-Science/Resources/Managing-Allergens-in-Catering-See-how-it-s-done.aspx

CUSTOMERS

FSA advice for food allergic consumers on the changes to allergen labelling under the EU FIC:

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/publication/allergy-leaflet.pdf

MANUFACTURERS AND OTHER BUSINESSES SELLING PRE-PACKED FOODS

British Retail Consortium (Guidance on food allergens):

http://www.brc.org.uk/downloads/Guidance20on20Allergen20Labelling.pdf

Allergy: what to consider when labelling food. A guide for small and medium businesses that make or sell pre packed food

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/publication/allergy-labelling-prepacked.pdf

 

FSA Website Info

http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide/allergen-resources