If you run a food business – whether it’s in production, manufacture, retail or catering – this section can help you produce safe food and meet your legal requirements too.
On this page, you can find out about
- Traceability, withdrawal and recall
- Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
- Industry guides
- Food contact materials
- Genetically modified food
Elsewhere in this section, you can find advice for:
Working with Local Authorities, Food Standards Scotland runs two hygiene rating systems for food businesses in Scotland. These schemes exist to help consumers make informed choices about where to eat out by, providing a recognisable 'sign' of high standards of food hygiene. Find out more about both schemes:
Food safety, traceability, withdrawal and recall
Articles 14, 16, 18 and 19 of the General Food Law Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 relate to the safety of food, traceability, notification of food safety incidents and withdrawal and recall of unsafe food.
Find out more about food safety, traceability, withdrawal and recall on food.gov.uk.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
Everyone in the food industry is aware of the importance of good food hygiene practices and of the need to handle food in a clean, safe environment. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a widely accepted food safety management system, which can be easily adapted to suit all sizes and types of food business. The main aim of HACCP is to focus attention on the critical points in food preparation and to take measures to ensure that problems do not occur.
If you’re a caterer, retailer or butcher, a HACCP food safety management system has been developed to assist you in producing safe food safe to eat.
Every food business (except Primary Production) needs to use HACCP, and enforcement officers will check to make sure you’re using it during routine inspections. So to help you, we’ve developed these food safety management packs.
Food businesses in Scotland need to be sure what to do to control the risk of food being contaminated by E.coli O157, to protect their customers. This cross-contamination guidance will help you understand what you need to do. You can see more on control of cross-contamination on food.gov.uk.
Guidelines for the development of national voluntary guides
There are guidelines help food business operators to develop a voluntary food hygiene guide, to help them comply with food hygiene requirements. You can view these on food.gov.uk.
You can download existing industry guides from The Stationery Office website. The use of these guides is voluntary. There is no legal requirement for food businesses to follow the advice contained in them. Businesses may demonstrate compliance with the hygiene legislation in other ways. However, where a food business operator is following the guidance in a recognised industry guide, the enforcement authority must take this into account when assessing compliance with the legislation.
Food Contact Materials
These regulations explain which breaches of EU provisions are offences and will incur penalties.
Frequently asked questions on risk for Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make materials that may come into contact with food.
Plants can take up aluminium from the soil and from water. So some plants, such as tea, and some herbs and leafy vegetables, can build up high levels of aluminium naturally.Aluminium can also be added to food during processing. Some food additives contain aluminium. These are used in foods such as bakery products, dried powdered foods and drinks, and processed cheeses to improve the texture. Also, aluminium can get into food from cookware that contains aluminium and from packaging such as aluminium foil and cartons.
Cooking and storing food
It's best not to use aluminium products to cook or store foods that are highly acidic, such as:
- many soft fruits
This is because aluminium can affect the taste of these sorts of food, especially if they are stored in aluminium containers for a long time.
One study found that about 20% of aluminium in the diet comes from the use of aluminium cookware and foil. But other studies have shown that the use of aluminium cookware contributes little to the amount of aluminium we take in through our food.
Does aluminium cause Alzheimer's disease?
There has been a lot of research into this area over the past 40 years. In 1997, the World Health Organization said that it had found no evidence that aluminium was a health risk for healthy people who were not in contact with aluminium because of their jobs, and there was no evidence that aluminium was a primary cause of Alzheimer's disease.
How are levels of aluminium in food controlled?
The rules that cover metals in food require that materials, such as aluminium, that are added to food or come into contact with food, do not make food harmful. The rules also make sure that metals such as aluminium do not change the nature, substance or quality of the food.
The Food Standards Agency monitors the average amount of aluminium in the UK diet. In the most recent study published in 2009, dietary intakes of aluminium were similar to previous years. These levels were within the previously recommended safety guideline level for aluminium, but the safety guideline has recently been lowered.
Because of this change, some small groups of the UK population might now be consuming more than the safety guideline amount of aluminium. This will only affect a small number of people, for example children who consume food with higher amounts of aluminium like bread and bakery products, cocoa and cocoa products, herbs and some leafy vegetables. While the intake of aluminium has not changed much from previous years, measures to reduce exposure to aluminium are being implemented at the EU level. Research is being carried out to find out more about the different forms of aluminium in food and how they might affect consumers.
Canned foods play an important role in food storage. But substances used in making tin cans are strictly controlled to make sure they don't get into the food itself. Most foods contain very low concentrations of tin. Canned foods may contain higher levels because the tin coating used to protect the steel body of the can from corrosion can slowly transfer into the food. The resins that are used to coat the insides of some food cans contain the chemical bisphenol-A. This coating allows canned food to be heated to kill off bacteria without the metal in the can getting into the food contents.
No long-term health effects are associated with consuming tin. But it can cause stomach upsets such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and bloating in some sensitive people at levels above 200 milligrams per kilogram. This is the maximum legal amount of tin that can be present in canned foods. There are also limits for tin for particular categories of cans:
- 100mg/kg for drinks
- 50 mg/kg for infant and baby foods
- 50 mg/kg for dietary foods for special medical purposes intended specifically for infants
Some cans are fully lacquered on the inside to control and reduce tin levels, and allow them to contain acidic foods.
Bisphenol-A is one of a large number of substances that may have the potential to interact with our hormone systems. These substances are referred to as 'endocrine disrupters'. Research is still going on to establish whether or not bisphenol-A could have this effect in people. Particular concern has focused on the sex hormones, the female oestrogens and male androgens, because of their important roles in the development of the reproductive system.
Although there is evidence that some wildlife species have been affected by exposure to endocrine disrupters, there is still no conclusive evidence of a link between harmful effects on human reproductive health and exposure to these chemicals.
Rules to keep canned food safe
There are regulations in place that lay down the general safety requirements for all food contact materials and articles. These regulations also make sure that substances such as tin and bisphenol-A do not change the nature, substance or quality of the food. The regulations also require that can coatings containing bisphenol-A do not make food harmful.
What you can do
You should not re-use empty cans or tins to cook or store food because this can increase the likelihood of the substances used to make the cans getting into the food.
- Once a can is opened and the inside of the can comes into contact with oxygen in the air, corrosion, which is minimal while a can is sealed, becomes more rapid.
- Half opened cans of any type of food should not be left in the fridge. It's best to place leftover food in a sealable container that can be stored in the fridge or freezer. This advice does not apply to those foods sold in cans with a re-sealable lid, such as golden syrup or cocoa.
To make sure your canned food is at its best:
- store cans in a cool dry place
- use your oldest cans first
- if a can is bulging or rusting, throw it away
Genetically modified (GM) food has had its nature altered to give it certain beneficial properties it didn’t previously have. For example, a crop can have its resistance to particular insects improved, so it isn’t as reliant on pesticides.
Find out more about genetically modified food on food.gov.uk.