Food safety and hygiene

Basic requirements

Food premises should:

  • be clean and maintained in good repair
  • be designed and constructed to permit good hygiene practices
  • have an adequate supply of drinking water
  • have suitable controls in place to protect against pests
  • have adequate natural or artificial lighting
  • have sufficient natural or mechanical ventilation
  • provide clean lavatories which do not lead directly into food rooms
  • have adequate hand washing facilities
  • be provided with adequate drainage

Rooms where food is prepared, treated or processed should generally have surface finishes which are easy to clean, and where necessary, disinfect. This would, for instance, apply to wall, floor and equipment finishes. The rooms should also have:

  • adequate facilities for washing food and equipment
  • adequate facilities for the storage and removal of food waste

How these regulations are applied depends on the situation.

For example, every food premises must be kept clean. But how they are cleaned, and how often, will be different for a manufacturer of ready-to-eat meals compared to a bakery selling bread.

Quality of water in food

There must be an adequate supply of drinking water to be used whenever necessary to ensure food is not contaminated. In the vast majority of cases, this is supplied via the public water supply. But if there is any doubt about the quality of a water supply, you should seek advice from our Environmental Health teams.

Personal hygiene for food handlers

Anyone whose work involves handling food must:

  • wear clean and, where appropriate, protective over-clothes
  • observe good personal hygiene
  • routinely wash their hands when handling food
  • never smoke in food handling areas
  • report any illness (like infected wounds, skin infections, diarrhoea or vomiting) to their manager or supervisor immediately

If any employee reports that they are suffering from any such illness, the business may have to exclude them from food handling areas. Such action should be taken urgently. If you have any doubt about the need to exclude, you should seek urgent medical advice or check with us.

Preventing food contamination

Food handlers must protect food and ingredients against contamination which is likely to render them unfit for human consumption or a health hazard.

For example, uncooked poultry should not contaminate ready-to-eat foods, either through direct contact or through work surfaces or equipment.

Training and supervising food handlers

Food handlers must receive adequate supervision, instruction and training in food hygiene.

Each food business must decide what training or supervision their food handlers need by identifying the areas of their work most likely to affect food hygiene.

Last updated 11 July 2023