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Food standards and hygiene

As Environmental Services responsibilities include enforcing food law, we will inspect your food premises to ensure that you comply with the relevant food hygiene and food standards legislation. 

Please select buttons below to provide information relating to each subject. 

Inspections are only a part of what we do. We much prefer to provide advice and guidance to new businesses before they start to trade.

If you sell food, then you are responsible for ensuring that it's safe. We regularly inspect all local food business to ensure high standards and to identify areas for improvement.

Most of our work involves helping businesses comply with food safety legislation and providing recommendations on best practice. We also carry out inspections to ensure that food meets relevant standards with regard to its quality, composition, labelling and advertising.

Minor breaches in food law are often dealt with informally however more serious violations, can result in legal action or even forcing a business to close.

If you have any concerns about how best to operate safely and legally please contact Environmental Services for advice.

Everyone handling food in a business must be supervised and have had food hygiene training. This is a legal requirement and is an essential part of good hygiene practice.

Those responsible for the Food Safety Management System of the business must have had training in the application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles.

The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) provide approved elementary and intermediate level food hygiene courses. The elementary course is a basic course aimed at all food handlers, with the intermediate one being aimed at supervisor/manager level. To find a training centre in your local area, please visit the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website. If you require further advice or information please contact Environmental Services.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are responsible for all labelling and standards policy in Scotland. They are involved in a range of initiatives to investigate what improvements you would like to see in relation to food labelling.

Food labels should give enough information for you to determine the name of the food, indicate a use-by or best before date and a list of ingredients (including amounts, if a special emphasis is placed upon a particular ingredient).

You should also be told if any special storage instructions or cooking instructions are required and be given an address within the European Community that you can contact if you have any complaints regarding the food.

Food date-marking

If you sell or produce pre-packaged food it's your responsibility to ensure that all products have either a 'use by' date or a 'best before' date.

Use by date

A 'use by' date should be displayed on highly perishable products, such as dairy or meat, that could cause you harm. Any specific storage conditions must also be specified on the packaging to preserve the ‘use by’ date.

Best before date

'Best before’ dates are used on less perishable products such as biscuits, cereals and tinned produce. The 'best before' date is when the manufacturer guarantees the quality of the product. After this date the product might not be at its best, but it's unlikely that it would cause an illness if eaten.

It is a strict offence to sell food after its ‘use by’ date and it may also be an offence where the quality of food is poorer because it's after the ‘best before’ date.

Where claims are made about the nature, quality, and substance of food, they should be what they claim - for example a 'fresh' product should not have been frozen and 'pure orange' should not be an orange flavoured drink.

Environmental Health Officers inspect premises and deal with consumer complaints regarding food standards, including date codes, labelling of food and the nature, substance and quality of food.

If you have any problems regarding food quality, contact Environmental Services for advice. It is useful if you have proof of purchase and a witness.

Some people have a sensitivity to certain foods that non-sufferers would find harmless. When someone has a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a particular food as if it's not safe. A severe food allergy can cause a life-threatening reaction.

Food intolerance, however, does not involve the immune system and is not generally life-threatening. It is important that your staff are aware of any allergens contained in the food they sell, to enable them to cater for customers with food allergies and intolerance.

You need to understand your processes and products and identify, manage and communicate allergen risks to your staff and customers who may have allergies to certain foods.

Food Standards Scotland can provide up-to-date information on all of this and more. Allergen management can easily be achieved in three steps.

Step 1 - Identify allergens in your business

The table below lists the most common allergens and provides examples of foods which typically contain them:

Allergen

Examples of typical foods which contain this allergen. (Please note this list is not exhaustive)

Cereals containing Gluten, for example, wheat, rye, barley, oats

Bread, pasta, cakes, pastry, sauces, soups, batter, stock cubes, breadcrumbs, semolina, couscous, some meat products.

Celery and celeriac, for example, stalks, seeds and leaves

Salads, soups, celery salt, some meat products.

Eggs

Cakes, sauces, pasta, mayonnaise, some meat products, glazed products.

Fish, Crustaceans and Molluscs, for example, all fish, prawns, lobster, crab, clams, langoustines, mussels, oysters

Some salad dressings, fish extracts, oils and paste, soy and Worcestershire sauces, relishes.

Milk

Milk powder, yoghurt, butter, cheese, cream, ghee, foods glazed with milk, ice cream.

Mustard

Mustard paste, seeds, leaves, flour, powder and liquid mustard, salad dressings, marinades, soups, sauces, curries, some meat products.

Peanuts

Arachis oil, peanut butter, flour, satay sauce, refined peanut oil.

Other nuts, for example, walnuts, cashews, pecan, Brazil, pistachio, macadamia, Queensland nuts.

In sauces, desserts, bread, crackers, ice cream, praline (hazelnut), nut butters, essences and oils, marzipan and frangipane (almond), pesto, nut salad dressings.

Sesame Seeds

Oil or paste, tahini, houmous, halva, furikake, Gomashio, bread

Soya, for example, flour, tofu, bean curd, textured Soya, protein, soy sauce, edamame beans.

Some ice cream, sauces, desserts, meat products, vegetarian products.

Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites

Some meat products, stock cubes, bouillon mix, fruit juice drinks, dried fruit/ vegetables, wine, beer, cider.

Lupin Seeds and Flour

Some types of bread and pastries.

Step 2 - Manage allergen risks

This can be done by adapting the following guidance for your business.

Deliveries and labels

  • check that the food matches your order. If it does not match, check the ingredients of the replacement produce. Never accept a delivery without it being accompanied by an ingredient list.
  • be aware of hidden ingredients, for example, nuts used in the base of a cheesecake
  • any foods whose ingredients are unknown to you will require further investigation to declare allergen information

Storage and avoiding cross contamination

  • store foods that contain allergens separate from other foods. Consider using colour coded containers
  • store foods that contain allergens in powdered form such as milk powder in air-tight containers
  • do not lose the original product description following unpacking, decanting and storage
  • keep a record of all foods and ingredients purchased by you to ensure traceability
  • put in place steps to prevent cross contamination between foods that contain allergens and those foods that do not. Remember! Small traces of foods which contain allergens can get into other foods and cause reaction.

Preparing dishes

Know all the ingredients in the food you handle to ensure you provide accurate allergen advice to customers. Whenever preparing or serving food for an allergy sufferer, you should always:

  • use a separate area to prepare the food
  • clean and disinfect the work surface, equipment and serving utensils first
  • wash your hands thoroughly
  • check all ingredients including secondary ones, for example, thickeners for sauces
  • do not cook food in oil in which you have cooked other foods
  • do not remove allergenic ingredients such as nuts from a dish and call it allergy free as residues can remain in the dish
  • when displaying food in buffets or displays lay out dishes in a way that minimises the risk of cross contamination

Step 3 - Communicate with your staff and customers

Staff Training

  • train all your staff (including staff taking orders over the telephone) in allergy awareness
  • make sure that all staff understand that they should never guess whether an allergen is or is not present in food
  • ensure kitchen staff inform the service staff on last minute recipe changes

Communicating with your customers

  • let customers with allergies know that you are allergy aware and give advice on which foods to avoid
  • where possible, design your menu so that allergenic ingredients are stated, for example “strawberry mousse with almond shortbread” or “ satay sauce made with peanuts”

Food poisoning is caused by eating food that contains germs such as Salmonella and E coli. It can also be caused by other things such as chemical or viral contamination.

If you think you have food poisoning you should contact your doctor who will request a stool sample. If you have recently eaten out, either at a restaurant, takeaway or at a function and know of anyone else there who has similar symptoms, you should give us the details. If you have any of the food left, keep it in a safe place, preferably in the fridge, as we may want to analyse it.

If you work with food, very young children, the elderly or people with impaired immunity, you should always tell your supervisor when you have sickness or diarrhoea.

Our Environmental Health team works with NHS public health departments and prompt action will be taken if any outbreak of food poisoning is suspected.

E.coli O157: Control of Cross-Contamination

Food Standards Scotland has issued guidance for food businesses to clarify the steps that they need to take to control the risk of food becoming contaminated by E.coli O157 and what businesses should be doing to protect their customers.

This guidance has been developed in response to the serious outbreaks of E.coli O157 in Scotland in 1996 and Wales in 2005, which were attributed to cross-contamination arising from poor handling of food.

Although E.coli is the key focus of this guidance, the measures outlined will also help in the control of other bacteria, such as Campylobacter and Salmonell.

The full guidance, developed following a public consultation and Professor Hugh Pennington’s report into the 2005 E.coli outbreak, has been provided by Food Standards Scotland, along with a factsheet for businesses.

The Food Standards Agency's Guidance Document 'E. coli O157: Control of Cross Contamination' requires Food Business Operators to ensure that, where necessary, they are using appropriate disinfectants that meet the requirements of British Standards BS EN 1276:1997 or BS EN 13697:2001 to disinfect food contact surfaces and equipment.

If you have a query regarding whether the disinfectants you are intending to use meet these requirements, please contact the manufacturer of the products to obtain this information. If after doing so you are still unsure, please contact Environmental Services for advice.

We are required to undertake routine sampling, with any sampling being undertaken in accordance with current approved codes of practice, regulations, and guidance.

We believe that sampling is an important, and integral, tool in food law enforcement for the following reasons:

  • protecting public health
  • detecting and deterring fraudulent activities
  • verifying that official control checks are effective
  • giving customers sufficient information to make informed choices
  • ensuring that food standards are maintained
  • informing the enforcement approach
  • providing product quality advice to the producer
  • promoting fair trade and deterring bad practice

Sometimes sampling is the only way of fulfilling these objectives; often it is a support to other interventions by authorised officers.

Sampling has particular benefits in supporting work on food complaints, food safety and standards inspections (including process monitoring), the Home Authority Principle, and surveys. There is also a role in the council’s involvement in special investigations and local initiatives.

Organisation of sampling

Food law enforcement, and sampling, is a function carried out by Environmental Services, in particular the Food and Business Regulation team within Environmental Health. The service is managed by Craig Brown, Environmental Services Manager. Our Lead Officer for food safety is Karen Wardrope, Divisional Environmental Health Officer. All sampling will be undertaken in accordance with relevant legislation and codes of practice, as well as guidance and procedures issued under this policy.

Sampling Programme and prioritisation of sampling

A Sampling Programme will be produced every year. The programme will be discussed with our Public Analyst and will be informed by guidance from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee (SFELC). We view sampling as an important component of all enforcement work but particular benefits are linked to complaints. When prioritising sampling we will prioritise sampling in three categories.

Priority 1 - Samples required to meet statutory obligations

  • complaint samples
  • investigation of food related outbreaks and incidents.

Priority 2 - Samples required for effective food safety enforcement

  • microbiological samples from high risk Category (D & E) food law premises and all Group 1 food law premises
  • microbiological samples from approved premises with the exception of egg packers
  • microbiological samples of high risk foods from other food hygiene premises
  • chemical samples from producers, packers, or importers sending food out with South Lanarkshire Council
  • sampling of foods from premises highlighted by national sample collation
  • imported food sampling by inland authorities.

Priority 3 - Samples that give added value or which support local initiatives and projects

  • LA surveys
  • sampling to support local initiatives
  • sampling to support other LA services
  • Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee coordinated surveys
  • Food Liaison Group surveys.

We aim to prioritise samples falling into Priority 1 and Priority 2 classifications. Resources will be devoted to Priority 3 samples whenever possible.

Resourcing sampling

Food sampling is carried out by officers in Environmental Services. As well as staff resources we will ensure adequate resources are committed for

  • sample collection
  • sampling equipment
  • transport of samples
  • analysis or examination of samples

We have appointed Edinburgh City Council to provide Public Analyst and Food Examiner services.

In ensuring the most effective use of sampling resources, the council will seek to follow any advice from Food Standards Scotland and other agencies. We believe that local authorities working together can pool resources and gain added value from their sampling work. We participate in the Food Surveillance System UK (UKFSS) which is a Food Standards Scotland-funded sample and result collation mechanism. A report of data from UKFSS, produced by Food Standards Scotland annually, analyses data from that year's sampling, and contains recommendations for action by Local Authorities for the following year. Such information will be used to target sampling activity and guide councils on getting the best value from sampling resources.

Sampling and enforcement

Food samples are an enforcement tool and results are considered in terms of our Food Safety Enforcement policy as well as our procedure for dealing with the results of food samples.

Review

This sampling policy, and any programme, guidance, or procedure issued thereunder, will be reviewed whenever there are substantial changes to the activities to which it relates and not later than 2 months from the anniversary of its inception. If it is established that the sampling policy and programme are not being adhered to, the appropriate staff will be retrained and/or the policy/programme reviewed to more accurately reflect the activities being carried out.

How do you access information about food premises?

The Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) allows you to see how well a food business, such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and takeaways did at their last food hygiene inspection.

Rating System

We give the business a certificate which we ask them to display on their window or door. It shows the results of their last inspection. It will say

  • Pass certificate – indicates that the business broadly meets the legal requirements
  • Improvement required – indicates that they have failed to meet the bare minimum legal requirement
  • Awaiting inspection - this will be issued on a temporary basis when a business has not yet been inspected as part of the scheme

These are based on the conditions found at the time of our inspection, however things may have changed since then.

A small number of businesses may be exempt from the scheme as they are very low risk.

The aim of the scheme is to raise food hygiene standards and help consumers make informed choices about where they want to buy food.

You can see more information on the Food Hygiene Information Scheme on the Food Standards Agency website and search for inspection results for South Lanarkshire.

For information on how to make a complaint about a food business please go to the food complaints page on our website.

Environmental Services

Phone: 0303 123 1015