Food safety management requirements
Under the existing law, those responsible for any sort of operation where food is prepared and served should carry out risk assessments and, as stated, premises should continue to be operated in a safe and hygienic way. But a more structured approach to managing the operation may be required and records may need to be kept.
The requirements will vary depending on the level of operation. Congregations that provide café facilities or the like will be most affected. Congregations that have monthly or fortnightly events such as lunch clubs will be less affected, but nonetheless appropriate procedures must be in place and records kept (as detailed below). The food hygiene regulations apply in all circumstances where food is brought onto premises but in the case of low-risk activities, simplified procedures and record keeping should suffice.
The basic food safety management requirements are as follows:
- Identifying risks to food safety which might be present or occur within your operation ("What can go wrong, when and where?").
- Putting controls in place which will deal with the risks ("What can I do about it?").
- Ensuring that controls are carried out and that if something does go wrong, it is clear to all involved what should be done to rectify the problem ("What is acceptable?", "How can I check?", "What can I do about it?").
- Ensuring that the procedures are kept up to date ("How do I confirm that the procedures are still working?").
- Keeping the documents and records necessary to show health inspectors that the procedure is working and is reviewed where necessary ("What documents and records do I need?").
Guidance should be available from the Environmental Health Department of the relative local authority and it is strongly recommended that such advice is obtained and acted upon. Details of the HACCP documentation for record keeping are provided in the Food Standards Agency Cooksafe publication, which should be available from local authorities. It can also be accessed at the Food Standards Scotland website.
The publication provides detailed advice which is tailored for commercial operations, and in most cases simplified versions of the example documentation should suffice. While references to record-keeping may appear daunting, once the basic documentation (such as flow charts and check lists) is in place, monitoring by the Congregation's Food Safety Co-ordinator should be fairly straightforward.
It is recommended that each Congregation has a Food Safety Co-ordinator with the appropriate level of training and that he or she is responsible for implementing the risk assessment, reviewing the procedures and keeping records.