Due Diligence in Food Safety & Hygiene

All food businesses must make sure they follow food safety laws and procedures. This makes sure the food they sell is safe for consumption. However, it’s not enough to simply follow food safety laws, you must prove your due diligence in food safety. This means that you need to keep proper records of the food safety systems used by your business to comply with the law.

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.

Keeping Records to Prove Due Diligence in Food Safety

How you show your knowledge of food law, and prove you are following food hygiene regulations is key to avoiding issues with the law.

Keeping records of the steps your business has taken to ensure food safety will protect your business from legal consequences if involved in a food safety incident. Keeping up to date and accurate records of your procedures is vital so you can evidence this.

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 in food safety and will use your evidence to determine if your business is running safely.

What is Due Diligence in Food Safety?

Due diligence in food safety means your business can prove it has taken all possible measures to minimise food safety risks.

Due diligence is the main defence under food safety law if a business is involved in a safety incident involving it’s food which could lead to prosecution.

The most successful way to evidence food safety procedures 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 per the Food Safety Act of 1990, protecting yourself with a due diligence defence is the best way of avoiding legal problems.

How to 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. If someone else supplied the food, it must have been reasonable for the business to rely upon them to perform the checks.
  2. The error came from someone not associated with the food business or someone outwith the business’s control. For example, if a customer at a restaurant did not inform them of an allergy and had an allergic reaction.
  3. The business had no reason to think that their act or omission would lead to an offence being committed.

The easiest way to show due diligence is to keep thorough records of all the ways you manage your food safety system.

Making reasonable checks on all food is the part of a due dilligence defence which is most important within any food business. By keeping proper records, your business is protected from legal action being taken against you under the Food Safety Act.

The most important food safety system to keep thorough records of is your HACCP system. It is important to regularly review your system, and carry out proper food risk / HACCP risk assessments to ensure your procedures are still sufficient.

Keeping Records to Show Due Diligence

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

Food Safety Responsibilities

Even the smallest food premises, such as a business selling cakes from home, should have thorough records and safety measures in place. Food businesses have a responsibility to ensure that all food produced by them is fit for consumption. To do this, businesses must keep and retain records.

Following the 4 C’s of Food Safety

An easy way to demonstrate due diligence is to ensure you follow the 4c’s of food safety. Make them part of your food safety system, and document your procedures in your records.

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