Guidance for food businesses

Read our helpful pack, which provides advice for running your food business.

1 Overview

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

These will cover your allergens control, food labelling and any other relevant trading standards matters, such as fair trading and weights and measures.

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.

We have recently surveyed our residents in relation to food hygiene and you can view the results on our customer poll page.

3 Food business training and support

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

Death

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.

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Manslaughter

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.

Immediate closure

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. Our 2018 poll shows that West Sussex residents take food hygiene ratings seriously.

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:

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 our free or low cost training resources 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.

Sources of further information

Last updated:
8 August 2019
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  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.