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Food safety for businesses

Wiltshire Council has over 5000 registered food businesses and in order to protect the health of residents and those who visit Wiltshire, Public Protection Services promotes food safety through the provision of food safety advice, carrying out inspections, and if needed, by effectively enforcing the law. 

Last year the team received over 570 complaints about food businesses and food items.  In addition the team carried out over 1550 food hygiene inspections and 418 revisits of food businesses.

You can’t see it, smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it. A common cause of campylobacter poisoning is cross-contamination from raw poultry. 

There are a number of things you can do to help protect yourself, for example;

  • Store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on bottom shelf of fridge.
  • Don’t wash raw chicken because it can splash germs around your kitchen.
  • Wash everything that has touched raw chicken in soap and hot water – your hands and utensils.
  • Check chicken is cooked thoroughly – no pink meat, steaming hot and juices run clear.

To find out more visit  the Food Standards Agency


Food Standards Agency food alerts

The Food Standards Agency leads on the Government response to food incidents. It provides advice on how to report, respond to and prevent an incident, as well as carrying out monitoring and planning work.


A food incident is where concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food require intervention to protect consumers. Incidents fall broadly into two categories:

  • contamination of food or animal feed in processing, distribution, retail and catering, resulting in action to withdraw the food from sale or recall it from the public
  • environmental pollution incidents such as fires, chemical/oil spills and radiation leaks, which may involve voluntary or statutory action (e.g. orders made under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985)

Preventing incidents is important for protecting consumers' interests, ensuring food standards and safety, and maintaining trust in the food chain. As part of its incident prevention strategy, the Food Standards Agency monitors food and feed safety patterns in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and provides guidance and workshops to industry.

Details of current food alerts can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

Specific alerts relating to allergens can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.


Food safety legislation

Food safety legislation is based on the requirements of EC Directives and Regulations:

  • Regulation (EC) 852/2004 relates to the hygiene of foodstuffs
  • Regulation (EC) 853/2004 lays down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin
  • Regulation (EC) 854/2004 lays down specific rules for the organisation of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption.

The main piece of legislation that we use is the Food Safety Act 1990. The act is concerned with all aspects of food production and sale. It includes the offences associated with producing or selling unfit or contaminated food and falsely describing food. The powers available to the Food Safety Team are included in the Act as are the defences open to food businesses. The vast majority of food regulations are made under the Food Safety Act 1990.


These regulations contain all the specific requirements made of food businesses. This includes things like providing hand wash basins, keeping premises clean and protecting food from contamination. It also requires people handling food to be suitably trained and for food businesses to assess the risks they present to food safety (Hazard analysis).

It also sets the temperatures at which food must be kept. Food should either be kept chilled below 8°C or kept hot above 63°C. The regulations contain some exceptions to these rules.

For more information on the training required of food handlers please see our food safety training page.

Specific types of food production premises are controlled by Regulation (EC) 853/2004 and Regulation (EC) 854/2004. These include producers of:

  • Dairy Products
  • Meat Products
  • Egg Products
  • Fish and Fish Products

Other legislation that we commonly use includes:

  • The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982
  • The Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991
  • The Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Regulations 1984

Hazard analysis for food business

The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 require food businesses to examine their own operations and to identify the controls necessary to protect the safety of food.

Undertaking a hazard analysis as part of your HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) is a legal requirement for all food businesses. You must also provide this analysis in writing.

The requirement is broken up in to seven individual requirements:

  • The operations must be analysed for all potential food hazards
  • Identify the points of the operation where the hazards can cause problems
  • Decide which of the points identified (there may be many) are critical to protecting food safety
  • Thinking of and putting in to practice suitable controls at the critical points. Control measures must be monitored
  • The analysis must be reviewed periodically to make sure nothing has changed in your operations.
  • You must prove that your HACCP plan is working (verification)
  • Keep records of all of the above (documentation)

More information on hazard analysis and HACCP management systems can be found on the Food Standards Agency's website:

More information on food safety and related topics is available from the CIEH Shop.


Part of your Hazard Analysis will include the requirement for traceability. That is, you must be able to demonstrate where food used in your business comes from and where it goes (if you don't sell it to the final consumer). This is so that any unsafe food can quickly be removed from the food chain.

Further information on traceability can be found on the following websites.


Part of your food safety management system will be to have the means in place to deal with food incidents.

According to the Food Standards Agency a food incident is "...an event where there are concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers’ interests".

Such incidents could include:

  • Contaminated ingredients
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Products containing unexpected allergens (eg the label does not state that the product may contain traces of nut or dairy material etc).

When a food incident occurs it may be necessary to withdraw affected products and/or inform the public about them. The Food Standards Agency have produced useful information on their website on the subject.


To protect the consumer from risk of illness and to help raise quality standards, the law requires all businesses and organisations to have a Food Safety Management System . This needs to be in as much detail as is necessary for the risks posed by the tasks carried out.

Safer food, better business for caterers


Food poisoning

Food poisoning is a common illness and about 100,000 people a year develop it. This number represents those people who went to their doctor. The actual number is probably about 10 times this amount (i.e. a million people a year).

There are a number of things (agents) that can cause the symptoms of food poisoning. They include bacteria, viruses, moulds, protozoa, chemical contamination, and allergic reactions to food.

Common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diahorrea, nausea, fever and malaise.

If you think you are suffering from food poisoning you must contact your doctor. They will be able to arrange for you to submit a faeces sample. This is important because it allows us to identify the particular agent that is responsible for your illness. This helps to identify where you may have got the agent from.

If you have submitted a faeces sample, the laboratory will automatically notify the Food Safety Team if you are suffering from food poisoning. You will be sent a questionnaire about your illness which you should complete fully and return to us as soon as possible. This is to assess whether you picked the agent up at a food premises or whether your illness is part of a wider outbreak. The questionnaire will ask you the following questions:

  • what symptoms you have;
  • when the symptoms started and when they stopped;
  • what foods you have eaten over the last few days;
  • where you have eaten;
  • whether you have travelled anywhere recently;
  • what you occupation is;
  • whether other members of the family have been ill.

If there is evidence to suggest that you may have developed food poisoning after eating at a food premises, the Food Safety Team will investigate this. If the premises is responsible for a food poisoning outbreak (where lots of people have been ill at the same time) then we may take formal legal action against the premises.


The main causes of food poisoning and food borne illness are:

  • preparing foods too far in advance;
  • not cooking foods properly;
  • not re-heating foods properly;
  • not defrosting foods correctly;
  • storing foods incorrectly (ie too warm) so that bacteria can grow quickly;
  • cross contamination of foods after cooking;
  • infection from people handling foods due to poor hygiene.

We all are, but babies, young children and the elderly can very quickly become ill when infected. Pregnant women, people who already have a pre-existing illness, and anyone whose immune system is weakened can also be seriously affected by food borne illness.

  • diarrhoea;
  • stomach cramps;
  • vomiting;
  • fever;
  • nausea;
  • headache;
  • dizziness.


Food borne illness can spread quickly, partly because everyone in the family could have eaten the same food and partly because the bacteria may be picked up by close family contact (eg nursing the sick).

Viruses can also cause illness, similar to food poisoning and they too spread very quickly.

If you suspect you are suffering food poisoning it is recommended that you visit your doctor as soon as possible, who might ask you to submit a sample for examination. Samples are useful in that they might be able to show which food-borne illness you are suffering from, or could rule out a food-poisoning organism. Viruses can also be detected. Consult your doctor immediately if the person affected is a baby, elderly or has an existing illness or condition or if symptoms are prolonged or severe (eg bloody diarrhoea).

If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning, it is recommended that you follow the advice below to try and prevent the spread of the illness:

  • wash your hands after contact with the sick person, and before handling food.
  • do not use the same towel or face cloth as someone who is suffering with food borne illness.
  • clear up soiling accidents straightaway, wash with hot soapy water and disinfect with a disinfectant or bleach.
  • disinfect door and toilet handles, taps and the toilet seat after use and disinfect the toilet bowl frequently.
  • drink plenty of fluids while you are ill to prevent dehydration

Many people catch food poisoning at home. Further information is available from the Foodlink website. on how to prevent food poisoning at home.


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Last updated: 3 January 2019 | Last reviewed: 3 January 2019