October 2021 marked significant changes in food labelling legislation throughout the uK. The introduction of Natasha’s Law, in response to the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laprouse, imposed additional labelling requirements onto foods classified as PPDS – pre-packed for direct sale.
One year on, have these changes led to an improved situation for customers? YouGov research suggests that almost two thirds of consumers are still unaware of the stricter rules now followed by food outlets. More significantly, 45% of respondents to the survey said that lack of confidence in food handlers’ allergy awareness prevented them from buying food from certain outlets.
What can we do to improve this situation in our food businesses?
Be aware of all relevant food legislation
For instance, do the latest legislative amendments apply to your business? PPDS is food that is produced and packed on site for later sale, so your Hallowe’en range might introduce items such as pre-packed cakes and biscuits, wrapped toffee apples, and sweet cones. Do you know how to label these foods, and how this differs to other food in your range? Take time to understand your legal duties and make sure you’re fulfilling them in your business
Take a proactive approach
Don’t wait for a customer to ask you about allergens – ask them first. Some customers, especially younger or less confident ones, may hesitate to ask, even if they know they have a specific allergy. Giving them an opportunity to tell you about allergies increases their confidence in your professional approach to food safety
Train your team
Allergens can be a scary subject. Getting it wrong can be fatal, so it’s no wonder some food handlers are not confident about talking to customers about their needs. Help your team out by getting them properly trained – a Level 2 course will give them the fundamental understanding of allergenic ingredients and how to deal with them, as well as equipping them with the skills needed to communicate with customers. Level 3 training is suitable for supervisors required to risk assess their food business, and implement suitable systems, processes and communication methods, to ensure they are both legally compliant AND safe for customers with allergies.
When you understand allergenic ingredients and how to deal with them in your business, it’s not such a spooky subject! Let’s keep everyone safe this Hallowe’en and beyond.
According to 2021 research, British consumers are increasingly looking for British produce; great news for the environment and the economy.
Unsurprisingly, following food shortages in 2020 and 2021, savvy British consumers have been considering alternatives to their supermarket shop.
As well as supply chain issues, consumers have been driven to local producers by concerns about quality, citing a deeper trust in British farmed goods than in imported foods. High profile news stories regarding imported meat containing high levels of antibiotics and chlorine have forced consumers to think more carefully about food quality and production and processing methods.
And environmental concerns have also led shoppers to think about buying local – farms shops and markets have proved a great way to buy direct from producers, as well as providing genuinely seasonal foods.
Record breaking consumer numbers buy British food
This article published by Speciality Food Magazine cites OnePoll research that claims, ‘73% of the public often or always looking specifically for British food when shopping’.
It also revealed a strong level of support for British farming and its quality standards, with the vast majority of respondents wanting trade deals to protect British farmers from being undercut and welfare standards of imported meat to match that of domestically produced food.
The unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic highlighted the need for more secure supply chains – and local businesses responded to support their communities. Producers found creative ways to get their food directly to consumers, through farm shops, co-operatives and box schemes. The benefits of open air markets became clear as a safer shopping environment.
Rising success of the small food business
The economic situation continues to be tough for some food businesses, especially those without a corporate safety net to keep the cash flow going. However, the pandemic has demonstrated how agile and adaptable small businesses have been and continue to be as the rules and landscape shift on a monthly business
Some great examples of small business agility have been:
Food retailers taking their sales out into their community, using church halls, delivery services, or even repurposed ice cream vans to get supplies to vulnerable people
Businesses recognising and solving community problems – including the micro brewery who provided a reciprocal collection service for food bank items donated by customers of their delivery service. Community engagement has been a strong theme for a lot of food businesses, giving them the opportunity to really get to know and build relationships with their customers, and there is no doubt a number of these initiatives will continue and thrive once the threat of the pandemic has lessened.
Artisan producers joining forces to create ‘lockdown luxury’ boxes – sharing storage, packing and delivery resources to reduce cost and environmental impact and increase customer base
Small businesses can suffer from higher proportional overheads, without the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies. However, they often have the benefit of entrepreneurial spirit, an adaptable and loyal staff body and the agility to change direction quickly and make change happen. In adverse times, these skills will continue to be invaluable and as circumstances develop, the rise of small businesses is very welcome .
What does your food business need to do to meet April 2022 calorie labelling regulations?
The government has announced that calories will be labelled on menus and food labels in certain ‘out-of-home food businesses’ from April 2022. Out of home refers to business that prepare food for immediate consumption by its customers, such as cafes, restaurants, pubs and take-aways.
What businesses does this affect?
The new legislation means that large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, will need to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drinks that are prepared for customers. In some circumstances, franchisees are deemed to be a part of their franchisor’s business and therefore employee numbers are calculated across the whole business.
When does it come
The legislation comes into force from 6th April 2022, for the businesses outlined above
How must calorie information be displayed?
Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels
Businesses are also required to display the statement ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’ on their menus where food is chosen from a menu, or otherwise on a label where it can be seen by customers when making their food choices. Children’s menus are exempt from displaying the statement referencing daily calorie needs as the calorie requirements of a child vary with age and are less than that of an adult
Why is calorie labelling legislation being brought in?
The measures, which form part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, are planned to help to ensure people are able to make more informed, healthier choices when it comes to eating food out or ordering takeaways
When must smaller businesses comply with the new calorie labelling legislation?
At the present time, no plans to introduce this legislation into smaller food businesses have been announced
What are the
penalties for non compliance?
This has yet to be announced
Are there any exemptions?
Specific exemptions applying to food include:
• Temporary menu items on sale for less than 30 consecutive days and a total of 30 days in any year.
• Food which is ‘off menu’ and made available or prepared differently to the way it is normally prepared, at the request of the customer.
• Alcoholic drinks over 1.2% alcohol by volume.
• Condiments which are provided to be added by the consumer (not including condiments which are part of the food served).
The Regulations also specify exemptions for food which is served:
• On an international aircraft, train or ferry to or from a country that is not part of the UK.
• By a charity in the course of its charitable activities.
• At an institution providing education to children under 18 years.
• To patients (not for payment) at a hospital or other medical establishment or to residents of a care home or other social care institution.
Anything else we need to know?
At the moment, guidance is still being written. As updates are available, The Safer Food Group will update and add to this post. Our training courses are regularly updated to capture the latest relevant food safety regulations – check out www.thesaferfoodgroup.com for more info. If you would like to learn more about calories and menu planning, have a look at our Level 2 Nutrition course.
The UK Food Information Amendment – Natasha’s Law – came into force in October 2021. An important development in helping prevent the serious effects of food allergies, this law amendment deals with labelling products that have been packed on premises ready for sale. It was brought into force to strengthen the 2014 Food Information to Consumers legislation, and followed a period of dedicated campaigning by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically lost her life after eating a sandwich containing the allergen sesame. At the time, foods prepared in house and packaged for later sale were not required to be labelled individually.
What is Natasha’s Law and who does it affect?
Natasha’s law applies to any business or food operation that is preparing, packing and then later selling food from the same premises, or from a mobile stall or vehicle. This includes: cafes and coffee shops, takeaway and fish & chip restaurants, sandwich shops, farm shops, as well as work, school and hospital canteens. Voluntary and charity organisations who undertake fundraising events such as bake sales will also need to consider how they package their goods and whether they need to apply the new rules.
How does Natasha’s Law apply in a care or health setting?
Within care and health settings many foods are prepared and served directly to residents and patients – the new rules do not apply to these foods, although they will be covered by existing food safety regulations, including those relating to allergens. Some settings prepare, sell and distribute meals to customers off-site (e.g. ‘Meals-on-wheels’ services); these will typically be covered by regulations for distance selling of food. Where settings prepare and pre-package food for sale to customers – for instance to visitors to their café or restaurant – they will need consider Natasha’s Law and how to apply the correct labelling to those foods.
When does it come
Natasha’s law was created in September 2019, and came into force in October 2021 throughout the UK.
What foods are covered by Natasha’s law?
Any food which is Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS); that means prepared in-house, wrapped or placed in packaging, ready for the customer. This includes food that customers select themselves, as well as pre-wrapped items that are kept behind a counter.
What are PPDS foods?
Examples of PPDS items include:
Sandwiches, pies, burgers, ready meals or cakes/baked goods prepared and packaged by a food business before the consumer selects them
Foods prepared and packaged and sold at a market stall
Wrapped deli counter goods such as cheese and meats, and boxed salads placed on a refrigerated shelf prior to sale
Freshly made pizza or boxed salads from a supermarket deli counter which are packed on site and refrigerated prior to sale
Mixed bags of sweets which are made up, packaged and sold on the same premises or from a mobile unit such as an ice cream van.
For further help, use this tool created by the FSA.
What must we do?
All PPDS products will need to be clearly labelled with the name of the food and a full list of all ingredients. Any named allergens (from the 14 named allergens list) must be highlighted within the ingredients list, for example by printing them in bold, italics or a different colour. An exception to this rules is products with a surface area of less than 10cm2 – if this applies to your products, have a look at the FSA website to understand your responsibilties.
What are the
penalties for non compliance?
Businesses failing to follow the new rules could face a fine of up to £5,000 per offence. But more importantly, the damage to the reputation of your business if a serious allergy incident occurs is almost impossible to calculate.
What else should I think about?
The death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse highlights the importance of food allergen awareness within all food businesses and operations. As well as considering the physical labelling requirements, food businesses should also take this opportunity to think about their production process and staff training implications. It is vital that your food operation has a clear allergen policy, which allows both staff and customers to understand any risks that are present to allergy sufferers. Staff must fully understand any processes that they are expected to undertake when creating meals that fulfil any allergy-free claims you make, and those who communicate with customers must be able to do so truthfully and confidently.
All Safer Food Group training courses that contain allergy awareness advice include guidance on Natasha’s Law – and our all new Level 2 Allergy Awareness course for food handlers has been entirely updated and relaunched in September 2021, to comprehensively cover this subject.
Whilst Natasha’s law makes information more readily available and therefore easier for staff to communicate accurate ingredients information, the key message for all staff in food preparation is the importance of consistency in and clear communication of ingredients and recipes. Allergen training, whether in-house or with certified training courses, is a vital step in keeping your customers, staff and your business safe.
Whether you are an established cook or looking for your
first role in catering, a food hygiene certificate is an important part of your
toolkit. We look at the top 5 reasons for passing your food safety course
before you apply for that dream job.
1. Training makes you a safer worker
This one should go without
saying. The fundamental reason for taking a food hygiene course is
to learn the principles of preparing safe food – it’s that simple!
Understanding food safety challenges such as cross-contamination and knowing
the difference between a Best-Before and a
Use-By date are really important skills in a
kitchen. Having an up-to-date certificate to show you have already mastered
these skills gives an employer confidence before you even arrive for an
interview and helps you hit the ground running.
2. A certificate sets you apart from other candidates
This one is especially
important when you are starting out in the food industry, perhaps looking for
your very first food industry job. A food
hygiene certificate demonstrates that you are genuinely interested enough in
the sector to invest in your own training. For an entry level job, you won’t
need to break the bank – Level 2 Food Safety
(aka ‘Basic Food Hygiene’) is usually sufficient, and you can buy a single
online course for £12+ VAT. BUT – there are lots of courses out there, and they
vary in quality – make sure you look for a course that is accredited by a reputable body, such as Qualifi or CPD
3. Training gives you confidence to make the right decisions
Roles in catering and hospitality
are generally busy and at some point you may be working without supervision. You need to be able to make the right
decisions when working alone, and taking food related training courses, such as
Food Safety, HACCP and Allergy Awareness, will help you to do that.
4. You need to understand your personal, legal responsibilities
This is the scary one. As a
food handler, you have a legal responsibility to do everything you reasonably
can to make sure the food you serve is safe to eat. A good food hygiene course
will explain your legal responsibilities and
those of your employers and supervisors.
5. Good food hygiene helps you prevent waste
The food industry is becoming
increasingly focussed on the environmental impact of food waste. Having a good
understanding of food safety practices –
especially fridge and freezer temperatures, food labelling and hot-holding,
cooling and reheating methods – will enable you to do your bit in the war on
waste. And for your employer, that means cost savings too – a big win-win!
Food Safety courses are readily available online,
and can generally be taken in your own time, at your own pace. Good training
providers will allow you to sample course content before you buy to check it is
right for you – so perhaps a better question would be: ‘Why wouldn’t I need a
Food Hygiene certificate?’
What to watch out for when working with starchy foods
Acrylamide is a chemical that forms during a reaction between sugars and amino acids in starchy food, particularly when that food is cooked at high temperatures. Based on scientific studies, it is believed to be carcinogenic – that means, cancer forming – and therefore we should all be aware of its presence and understand what we can do to minimise its production when we cook.
Food handlers and food businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that the food they produce is safe to eat. Therefore, all food businesses should be aware of and take steps to minimise the production of acrylamide when purchasing, storing, preparing and cooking food, and food handlers should follow any plans that are put in place. The responsibility of food handlers and producers to minimise acrylamide levels is specifically addressed in EU Regulation 2017/2158.
What foods may contain acrylamide?
chips, french fries, other cut, deep fried potato products and sliced potato crisps from fresh potatoes
potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products from potato dough
bread, including loaves, rolls and baguettes, toast and toasted sandwiches
breakfast cereals (excluding porridge)
baked products including cookies, biscuits, rusks, cereal bars, scones, cornets, wafers, crumpets and gingerbread, as well as crackers, crisp breads and bread substitutes
Use a reputable published guide to check if any of the foods produced within your business presents an acrylamide risk (links to FSA: SFBB and UK Hospitality guides are below).
If you do produce acrylamide prone foods, use those guides to establish safe ways to produce these, and include this information in your Food Safety Management System (e.g. SFBB or HACCP).
Ensure all relevant staff are trained in these safe production guidelines – make sure any guidance you produce is clear and easily accessible.
Include acrylamide in your regular FSMS review process.
What are safe production methods to reduce production of acrylamide?
The most obvious indicator that a food has been cooked at too high a temperature is its colour – make sure fried, toasted or baked products reach a golden yellow, or lighter colour. Other quick tips include:
Store potatoes in a cool, dark place above a temperature of 6 degrees C, to discourage production of sugars
Always follow manufacturers’ instructions on part and pre cooked products
Use cooking oils that perform most effectively at lower temperatures
However, there are many more steps within the purchasing, storage, preparation and cooking processes that you need to follow to stay safe – we recommend you refer to Safer Food, Better Business or your relevant industry guides for more detailed information.
An aerobic, pathogenic bacteria that produces a heat resistant exotoxin (spore forming).
Description of Bacillus cereus
Bacillus coagulans is one of the good guys – a bacteria
that forms the basis of some probiotic foods. Unfortunately, it has less
friendly cousin; Bacillus cereus which causes food poisoning. Bacillus cereus is a soil-dwelling, spore-forming food poisoning
bacteria chiefly associated with cooked rice, as well as other starchy foods
including pasta and potatoes. If cooked at less than 100°C, bacterial spores
survive and germinate, releasing toxins which cause food poisoning.
Food sources of Bacillus cereus
include rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, and spices.
It loves inadequate
cooking and poor refrigeration and hates good food hygiene practice. The best
way to avoid food poisoning from B. cereus is to avoid reheating rice
require cooked rice to be chilled/refrigerated and used within 24 hours.
Symptoms of Bacillus cereus poisoning
abdominal pain and occasionally diarrhoea.
Thorough cooking and rapid cooling of food; typically rice is cooked in boiling water – 100°C – for at least 10 minutes.
Following cooking, control bacterial multiplication by the reduction of time in the danger zone after cooking, i.e., control of time and temperature during hot holding, and rapid cooling before storage
Refrigerated storage at 5°C or less for no longer than 24 hours
Avoid reheating rice dishes if possible – if reheating rice is undertaken ensure recommended FSA cooking temperatures and times are achieved.
Here are the headline announcements from the Chancellor’s Spring budget:
The furlough scheme will continue until the end of September 2021. In July, employers will be required to pay 10% of wages to employees, increasing to 20% in August and September.
Self Employed grants will continue, with one grant to cover the February – April period, and a final one to cover the period from May onwards. An additional 600,000 claimants are now expected to be eligible following submission of February’s tax returns.
The National living wage will increase from April
A new Restart Grant will be introduced to help closed businesses reopen. Those in non essential retail, currently due to open on April 12th will be eligible of a grant of up £6k.
Later opening businesses, including hospitality, hotels, gyms, as well as personal care and leisure firms will receive grants of up to £18k.
A new recovery loan scheme will introduced, guaranteed to 80% by the government, offering between £25k and £10m.
The business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will continue until the end of June, then rates will be reintroduced at lower interim rate.
The 5% reduced VAT rate will continue in the hospitality sectors until September, followed by an interim rate of 12.5% until the end of April 2022.
Contactless payments limit increased to £100
Personal income tax thresholds will be raised as planned in 2022, and then held until 2026.
Alcohol and fuel duties continue to be frozen
Corporation tax will increase in 2023. The most profitable companies (profits £250k+) will pay 25% corporation tax, tapering down to 19% for businesses with profits of £50k or less.
Companies will be able to carry back losses over three years to enable greater tax rebates for struggling companies.
A recent report by the BBC has highlighted concerns expressed by the FSA over newly formed ‘at-home’ food businesses, who fail to register with their local authority. But what are the rules around registering a food business, and what is holding business owners back from doing so?
“I only sell a few roast dinners once a week – it’s not really a food business”
Food business registration can be as simple as completing an online form via your local authority website, and is a legal requirement for any business that:
stores or handles food
distributes food, including:
restaurants, cafes and takeaways
catering businesses run from home, B&Bs, mobile catering and temporary businesses
marquees, food stalls, food pop ups and food vans
nurseries, schools and care homes
distance selling, mail order and food delivery including online
“But I only have a small business, I can’t afford to register”
Registration as a food business is free in the UK.
Other costs associated with setting up a new business, such as registration at Companies House and obtaining relevant business insurance are not linked to food business registration. Consider, however, that the penalties and risks (and stress!) you may incur if you don’t tick these boxes far outweigh your initial outlay.
“I’m running my business from my home – if I register, the EHO will visit and will probably close me down”
The Environmental Health team within your local authority are responsible for ensuring that all food businesses within their locality prepare and sell food which is safe for consumers. The most effective way to do this is to build and maintain good working relationships with food businesses – and so it is in their interests, as well as yours, to start communications on the right foot.
If you are in doubt about any aspect of setting up your business safely, as a registered food business you can approach your EHO for invaluable advice. In short – the EHO is a vital business support person, not the big bad wolf!
“I’m still not sure I understand food safety properly – and I don’t have time to learn!”
Running any kind of business without fundamental skills and knowledge is pretty scary. But the training you need to run a food business safely and confidently- such as food hygiene, allergy awareness,health and safety and HACCP – can be easily accessed, flexible and great value for money. With online training, you can study at a time and place that suits you; and at a pace that works for your skill level and existing knowledge – just check that it is accredited by an appropriate awarding body (such as Qualifi or CIEH) and accepted by your local authority.
If you want to employ staff within your food business, especially if they will be working away from supervision, it is important to know that they have the correct training in place to uphold your standards, even when you’re not there. And demonstrating your credentials to your customers is a great marketing tool – even if you sell your business via local social media channels, people will be reassured to see your training certificates and your Food Hygiene rating
If you have recently started a food business and you’d like to share your experiences of the Food Business registration process, drop a comment below or visit our Facebook page and leave us a comment – we’d love to hear from you! And if you’re just starting out on your journey – good luck, we hope it goes well.
The ICO, or Information Commissioner’s Office, oversees the safe handling of personal data within companies. Under the Data Protection Act 1998, any organisation that processes personal information must register with the ICO. While failure to do so is a criminal offence, some organisations may be exempt and may not need to register or ‘notify’ the Information Commissioner’s Office.
What is ‘personal data’?
Personal data is information about individual people, where they live, what they do and more. It’s any and all information that identifies them, including:
people’s names and addresses;
customer reference numbers;
If a document, file or image identifies a person, or could be used in combination with other information to identify them, then it’s personal data. This applies even if the information doesn’t include a person’s name.
What does ‘handling personal data’ mean?
Handling personal data means taking any action with someone’s personal data. This begins when a business starts making a record of information about someone, and continues until they no longer need the information and it’s been securely destroyed. If you hold information on someone, it counts as processing even if you don’t do anything else with it.
So, in the example of a fish and chip shop, personal data might include a list of customers’ names, addresses and phone numbers that they use for ordering and delivering food, or images that they record on their CCTV system.
Which businesses are exempt?
Organisations that only processes personal information for:
staff administration (including payroll);
advertising, marketing and public relations (in connection with their own business activity);
accounts and records;
Some not-for-profit organisations;
Organisations that process personal data only for maintaining a public register;
Organisations that do not process personal information on computer.
Does this apply to my business?
You might use personal data in a slightly different way to the examples described above. To check whether your business needs to register with the ICO, follow this link to their self assessment tool and answer the questions…