Due Diligence in Food Safety & Hygiene

There are many terms you will come across as you embark on a new career in the food industry. Due diligence in food safety is one of these terms and it is an important one to be aware of. Any business dealing with food must be compliant with all food hygiene regulations.

A commercial kitchen with food safety notices and cleaning products clearly displayed
Due diligence in food safety is key to protecting yourself from legal action.

How you evidence this knowledge of food law, and how you prove you are following food safety is key to preventing legal disputes. This evidence will prove your due diligence in this area. Keeping up-to-date records is by far the most reliable and effective way of showing your business understands due diligence.

The records you keep on the premises with regards to food safety may be your only protection against prosecution. These records and upkeep of them will prove you did everything possible to keep food safe. An EHO will ask you about due diligence and will use your evidence to determine if your business is running safely.


What is Due Diligence in Food Safety?

The definition of due diligence in food hygiene comes down to your business being able to prove that it has done everything it possibly can to minimise food risks.

The most successful way to do this is to be following a HACCP system. Having this in place will ensure you are taking all the necessary steps to avoid potential food risks and, therefore, displaying due diligence. It will also protect businesses from any legal ramifications.

As laid out in the Food Safety Act of 1990, protecting yourself with a due diligence defence is the best way of avoiding legal problems. Providing your business did all it could to prevent an incident (due diligence) then there will be no convictions.


How a Business Can Demonstrate Due Diligence

According to the Food Safety Act 1990, a due diligence defence has been achieved if any of the following occur:

  1. Reasonable checks on all food were carried out when it was their responsibility to do so.
  2. The error came from someone not associated with the food business or someone outwith the business’s control.
  3. The business did not realise that their act or omission would lead to an offence being committed.

The easiest way to show due diligence with food safety is to keep thorough records of all the ways you manage the food safety system. Even the smallest food premises, such as a cake-making home business, should have thorough records and safety measures in place. Food businesses have a responsibility to ensure that all food passed through them is fit for consumption. To do this, businesses must keep and retain certain records.


Records to Keep

Due diligence can be proven by the simple, yet effective, task of keeping the relevant records on food safety. Our list below includes the main records food businesses should have available and be using in their everyday practices.

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