Shropshire Council

Guidance for food businesses

If you're setting up a new business, are an existing business, or just want to know a little more about food businesses, we advise you read the following guides:

These guides have been written by the Food Standards Agency, and will cover most enquiries you may have. The Food Standards Agency website is a great resource for all food enquiries, and offers in-depth information on most food related topics. The same website also has information on food packaging and labelling.

The majority of food businesses will need to register with us 28 days before starting operation. This process is simple and free.

Food safety management systems

All food businesses are required to have a documented food safety management system. Using the Food Standards Agency’s “Safer Food Better Business” (SFBB) pack is an excellent way for most caterers to comply with this requirement.

Alternatively you can purchase a full-colour ring-bound packs from Shropshire Council.  The price includes postage and packaging:

  • Safe Methods pack for £20
  • 12 Month Diary pack for £15
  • Both the Safe methods and diary pack for £30

To request a pack please email food@shropshire.gov.uk or telephone 0345 6789067.

If you're a small manufacturing business, you may find that the Safer Food Better Business pack is not suitable to your specific needs, in which case the MyHACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) may be more suitable. This free web tool will guide you through the process of developing a food safety management system based on HACCP principles. Find out more about HACCP from the Food Standards Agency website.

Some businesses (such as butchers and delicatessens) where premises handle both raw and ready to eat products more often are classed as being high risk. The Food Standards Agency website provides more information on the more rigorous procedures required by such premises:

Food hygiene training

All food businesses must ensure all food handlers receive the appropriate level of supervision, instruction and training in order for them to handle food safely.

Staff personal hygiene

As a business owner it's important for you to oversee your staff’s personal hygiene in food preparation areas. You'll need to ensure that all staff are free from any illnesses that may be a risk to the public, and for them to report any such illnesses when appropriate. 

Diarrhoea and/or vomiting are the most common symptoms of illnesses that can be transmitted through food. Staff handling food or working in a food handling area must report these symptoms to management immediately. Managers must exclude staff with these symptoms from working with or around open food, normally for 48 hours from when symptoms stop naturally. Find out more from our information sheet.

In addition, all staff who handle food and who work around open food must always wash and dry their hands before handling food, especially after going to the toilet. This is vital, as it's possible to be infected with certain diseases but not to exhibit symptoms.

For a more comprehensive guide please visit the Food Standard Agency website.

Cross-contamination

Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and is a concern for all businesses. Harmful bacteria such as E.coli O157, campylobacter and salmonella can easily spread to ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, such as salads and cooked foods, through direct contact with raw foods, or indirectly by staff, equipment, contaminated surfaces or cleaning materials.

Contaminated food can make your customers seriously ill, and can even kill. The Food Safety Agency has put together an excellent factsheet and guide that, if followed correctly, will help you control the risk of cross-contamination within your business.

See more information on Cross Contamination from the Food Standards Agency.

Cleaning

Effective cleaning is essential to get rid of harmful bacteria, viruses and allergens to stop them spreading to food.

See more information on Cleaning from the Food Standards Agency.

Chilling

Chilling food properly helps to stop harmful bacteria from growing.

See more information on Chilling from the Food Standards Agency.

Cooking

It is essential to cook food properly to kill any harmful bacteria. If it is not cooked properly, it might not be safe for your customers to eat.

See more information on Cooking from the Food Standards Agency.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme for businesses

Food businesses open to the public will receive a food hygiene rating. The results are available to the general public via the Food Standard Agency website. The scheme is a great way to engage with the public and a great way to reassure the people of the food hygiene standards of your premises.

To help food businesses get the most out of their food hygiene rating, the Food Standards Agency has produced an online toolkit that offers ideas on how to promote hygiene standards, and help to increase the number of customers who come through the door or order online. 

What do the scores mean?

  • A score of 5 means that conditions are very good
  • A score of 4 means that conditions are good
  • A score of 3 means that conditions are generally satisfactory
  • A score of 2 means that improvement is necessary
  • A score of 1 means that major improvement is necessary
  • A score of 0 means that urgent improvement is necessary

The rating system is based on the following criteria:

  • How hygienically food is handled (safe food preparation, cooking, reheating, cooling and storage)
  • The condition of the structure of the premises (cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities)
  • How food safety is managed and documented (using systems such as ‘Safer food better business’ or equivalent)

Due to Covid 19 restrictions Shropshire Council cannot currently offer Request for Rescore visits.  We appreciate this may be frustrating for businesses striving to improve their food hygiene score.  This will be for a temporary period until we are able to safely resume them. 

During this time when we are unable to undertake Request for Rescore visits, if your food business has received a 0, 1 or 2 rating you may apply to change your rating to ‘Awaiting Inspection’ status.  To do this you must:

  • Complete the Awaiting Inspection Self Certification Form. Detail each item in the letter or report of inspection received following your visit and outline the actions you have taken to comply with Legal Requirements.
  • Provide photographs or copies of records (where appropriate) to prove you have complied with the Legal Requirements.

Upon receipt of satisfactory evidence that the necessary improvements have been made, the online rating will be changed to ‘Awaiting Inspection’ rather than the rating from the most recent visit. 

Where steps have been taken to improve standards at your food business you may wish to use the Right to Reply form.

You may also wish to appeal your score if you are unhappy with the food hygiene rating given to your business using the Appeal form.

Allergens

Allergies are something most us will be aware of. We'll all have seen gluten-free options at restaurants and cafes, or noticed allergy information on food products we buy. 

All food businesses need to provide information about the allergenic ingredients used in food sold or provided by them.

As a business, you must ensure that any specified allergens (or ingredients derived from the allergens) must be clearly declared in the ingredients list, and available to the public, the exception being where allergens are already in the name of the food (for instance 'peanut brittle').

The specified allergens are cereals containing gluten, crustaceans and molluscs, eggs, fish, soybeans, milk, peanuts, nuts, celery, mustard seeds, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (above 10mg/kg or 10mg/L), sesame seeds and lupin.

There are many resources available from the Food Standards Agency and Business Companion to help you comply with this requirement.

For more information on trading standards law take a look at the Business Companion website.

Please remember the requirement to ‘Ask About Allergies’.  Take a look at our guidance document which is designed to assist you.

Health and safety

Information on occupational health and safety can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.