Hospitality and the FIR 2014

Brian is one of our Tutors who delivers Professional Cookery qualifications. We asked him to talk about important issues of the moment:

“Food hygiene” and “food safety” are phrases which should be immediately familiar to everyone within the food handling industries. But, is everyone who handles food aware of their responsibilities, and do they understand the implications involved if procedures and policies are not adhered to? Food safety advice and legislation is ever changing and so training needs to be constantly updated. With a series of cases of bad practice being highlighted over the past years, we have now seen the introduction of specific Food Information Regulations (FIR) including allergen advice legislation in December of 2014. Consumers have been given the right to know exactly what ingredients are in their food. Smart businesses immediately introduced training and highlighted their procedures to keep up to date, keep legal and ensure that consumers felt safe when buying food and eating out.
Hopefully these following cases are historic and the new guidance will help prevent similar cases in the future, but it is worth knowing about these cautionary tales and examples of what happens if you are not compliant.
These three cases have made national news in 2015 already:-
A hotel in Swindon has been fined £20,000 for not adhering to basic food storage methods and failure to dispose of food which was past the use-by-date. If these basics in food hygiene were not being satisfied then it raises worries about adherence to the more intricate parts of the policies too.

The second news article was about a young lady in Manchester who went out to eat in a restaurant on a Friday night. She advised the restaurant that she was allergic to lactose and peanuts. Later that evening she collapsed and was rushed to hospital where she passed away a couple of days later. Her death is suspected to be due to an allergic reaction. Even though this has not yet been proven, the restaurant is under investigation and their adherence to the law being scrutinised. Restaurants need to be on high alert if notified of such an allergy by customers and know that if the proper training, advice and knowledge is not given to their staff then they risk harming someone and ultimately being prosecuted.
The third case is probably the most frightening of them all and we can describe the outcome in it’s entirely. In 2012, 30 people fell seriously ill after attending a Christmas party. One of these unfortunate people succumbed to the poisoning and tragically died. After a two year investigation and court hearing the Head Chef and the General Manager were both jailed for the incident.
What came to light was that there was not appropriate cooling down and reheating methods in the kitchen and the turkey was left in the “danger zone” for an extended period of time. To explain to the non-Chefs reading this, this allowed the bacteria on the turkey to grow at an alarming rate. The hotel then served this turkey to the customers. This was bad enough in itself. What then happened was that on hearing about customers falling ill, the Head Chef and the General Manager forged the HACCP documents to pretend they had followed protocols. They are now both serving jail time and the company that owned the hotel were fined £1.2m.
The clear theme of these stories is to ensure that training is correct, relevant and up to date. Ensure that everyone in the company comprehends the importance of food safety and understands the reasons for these policies and procedures. Lastly and not least, make sure food safety procedures are being managed and monitored correctly.
DUE DILLIGENCE is the new phrase of the day.

* The Food Information Regulations 2014

*HACCP – Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points