As a food business, we appreciate that finding the information you need can be time consuming. We also understand that it is not always clear who does what.
Trading Standards food officers work closely with our local district and borough environmental health officers and together we ensure the safety of food businesses within West Sussex.
2 Preparing for food inspections
Trading Standards inspections
The document below has been prepared to help you ensure you are complying with the relevant legislation.
Environmental health inspections
These will check your business’s level of cleanliness and hygiene, observe your food handling and storage and decide how confident they are in your management system.
They will check what measures you have in place to prevent cross-contamination and may ask your staff questions to check their awareness of allergens and procedures.
At the end of their inspection, they will award you a food hygiene rating score.
3 Food business training and support
- Business Companion - guidance on Trading Standards.
- Food Standards Agency - free online food safety training.
- Business advice and support partnership - bespoke support and Primary Authority Partnerships provision for your business.
You can also sign up to our West Sussex food business email, issued when anything topical that affects food businesses comes to our attention.
4 Allergy information for catering businesses
Ignorance of the law is not a defence.
Your responsibility as a caterer
The Food Information Regulations 2014 state that businesses have a responsibility to provide accurate allergen information to all customers that request it.
The Food Standards Agency lists 14 allergens - you must advise your customers if any of your food contains any of these allergens.
The consequences of poor allergen control
Food allergies can kill.
Megan Lee was 15 when she died in January 2017 due to an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts in a takeaway meal. Watch this short video made by Megan's parents and Lancashire County Council.
Those liable within food businesses could receive custodial sentences for neglecting to carry out their legal responsibilities.
Mrs Justice Yip passed sentence in 2018 in the criminal case relating to Megan Lee's death. Those responsible received custodial sentences of 2 and 3 years. In her summing up, she identified a number of serious failures of the business.
She made it clear that for food businesses facing similar charges in the future those liable should expect longer sentences due to an increased awareness of the dangers of food allergy.
Current sentencing guidelines recommend a custodial sentence of 6 - 12 years for Category B gross negligence manslaughter charges.
If environmental health officers find a food business poses a risk to public health, they will issue an emergency prohibition order. This requires immediate closure of the business.
Poor food hygiene rating
Trading Standards and Environmental Health audit food businesses. Find information on our preparing for food inspections page.
Even minor failures in your allergen control can result in a low food hygiene rating leading to loss of income.
What you should do
Implement a food management system
Use the Food Standards Agency’s Safer Food Better Business for Caterers. Information packs are available for many business types including Indian and Chinese restaurants, residential homes and childminders.
Implement food allergen controls
Make sure your food management system includes allergen control. You can do this by downloading the following documents from the Food Standards Agency Safer Food Better Business for Caterers page:
Keep a record of the ingredients used in dishes
You can do this by downloading the following documents from the Food Standards Agency allergen guidance for food businesses page:
Remember to update this information every time you get a fresh delivery or shop for ingredients, to make sure your allergy information is up to date.
Inform your customers
Full allergen information may appear on a menu, chalkboard or in an information pack.
You can do this by downloading the following document from the Food Standards Agency allergen guidance for food businesses page:
Natasha’s Law - allergen labelling of food that has been prepacked for direct sale
New allergen labelling is now required for food that has been prepacked for direct sale, such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff in the morning and placed on a shelf for purchase at lunchtime. Such items will need to be labelled with the name of the food and a full list of ingredients, with allergenic ingredients emphasised.
These requirements are designed to protect consumers by providing potentially life-saving allergen information on the packaging and were introduced following the tragic death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.
The Food Standards Agency has produced a video and sector-specific prepacked requirements for direct sale guidance, toolkits and resources, for a range of food businesses including takeaways, restaurants, cafés and pubs.
Taking orders over the telephone or online
You must give allergen information before the purchase of food is complete and on delivery of the food. Further information regarding distance selling of food is available on the Food Standards Agency website.
Train your staff
Use the Food Standards Agency's free online food safety training to ensure you and your employees have up-to-date knowledge and skills.
Regularly review your food management systems
Prepare for a Trading Standards visit and test the robustness of your allergen control by carrying out regular self-audits.
Sign up for food news, alerts and consultations
Are any of your ingredients subject to recall due to undeclared allergens? Is there going to be a change in food legislation that affects your business? Sign up to alerts from the Food Standards Agency.