The Food Standards Agency, in partnership with local authorities, is introducing the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Food Hygiene Information scheme in Scotland. The schemes help consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, cafés, takeaways, hotels and food shops.
The schemes also encourage businesses to improve hygiene standards. The overarching aim is to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.
The Agency is working with local authorities to encourage as many of them as possible to run the national schemes, so that consumers can compare hygiene ratings of food businesses in their local area and further away from home.
Each local authority can choose whether it wants to take part or not but numbers are increasing all the time. The scheme is now running in all areas of Wales and in many areas of England and Northern Ireland. Some local authorities are still running their own ‘local schemes’ (these are often referred to as ‘scores on the doors’ schemes). Read more information about these local schemes.
Frequently asked questions about food hygiene ratings
Some questions and answers about the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme in Scotland.
If you would like help bumping up you rating call us and ask about our food hygiene audits. We have helped food businesses increase from 0 stars to 5 stars, 2 stars to 4 stars and 3 stars to 5 stars.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is warning people who may have bought any of three particular brands of reblochon cheese in France to discard them. The French authorities have issued an alert about potential contamination with the bacteria that causes brucellosis.
The cheeses, sold under the brand names of Le Campagnard, Gaston, and Pernet Mugnier Christian, are being recalled in France following the detection of the bacteria Brucella in the unpasteurised milk used to make them.
They were sold from February to April 2012 in 450g packs. The affected cheeses were not supplied to any businesses in the UK. However, the FSA is warning people who may have travelled to France and bought the products there, not to consume them.
If you have already eaten any of these cheeses and feel unwell, you should seek medical attention, and tell your doctor what you have eaten. No other raw milk cheeses, apart from those named, are implicated in this warning.
The science behind the story
Brucellosis is a disease that usually affects livestock, including cattle. Infection of humans occurs through contact with infected animals or consuming unpasteurised (raw) milk or dairy products.
Brucellosis in humans is very rare in the UK, with most cases acquired abroad. Symptoms in humans vary. Some people experience no symptoms, or only a mild flu-like illness, while others experience chronic fever, which can recur for several years. Symptoms can occur up to a month after exposure.
The Agency has published guidance to help meat processors comply with the moratorium on the production of 'desinewed meat' (DSM) from cattle, sheep and goat bones, which applies from 28 April 2012.
This follows advice from the European Commission that DSM produced by mechanically separating residual meat from animal bones must be regarded as Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM), a product that cannot, under the provisions of European law, be produced from cattle, sheep and goat bones.
This guidance is in addition to the original announcement that was made on 4 April 2012. The original news story and the guidance can be found at the links below. The Agency will be publishing further guidance next month to assist meat producers with the changes related to DSM production from pig bones and poultry carcasses. These will apply from 26 May.
Guidance on the moratorium on the production of desinewed meat from ruminant bones PDF opens
The UK has been required to re-classify the process by which a very small part of its meat processing industry removes meat from animal bones.
The European Commission has asked that a moratorium is put in place on the production of 'desinewed meat' (DSM) from cattle, sheep and goats. Desinewed meat is produced using a low pressure technique to remove meat from animal bones. The product closely resembles minced meat, is currently a meat preparation and is regarded as meat.
DSM has been produced in the UK since the mid-1990s. UK producers have told us that DSM is also exported by other EU countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is clear that there is no evidence of any risk to human health from eating meat produced from the low-pressure DSM technique. There is no greater risk from eating this sort of produce than any other piece of meat or meat product. The European Commission has informed us today they do not consider this to be an identified public health concern.
However, the European Commission has decided that DSM does not comply with European Union single market legislation and has therefore required the UK to impose a moratorium on producing DSM from the bones of cattle, sheep and goats by the end of April. If the UK were not to comply with the Commission’s ruling it would risk a ban on the export of UK meat products, which would have a devastating impact on the UK food industry.
DSM may still be produced from poultry and pig bones but from the end of May it must be classed and specifically labelled as 'Mechanically Separated Meat' (MSM), and can no longer count towards the meat content of a product.
* This content has been updated since original publication.
Taken from The Food Standards Agency website
he Food Standards Agency has published results from its latest study looking at levels of process contaminants acrylamide and furan in a range of UK foods.
The report shows an upward trend in acrylamide levels in processed cereal-based baby foods (excluding rusks), and a reduction in other products, such as pre-cooked French fries, potato products for home cooking and bread during 2007-2011. The levels of acrylamide and furan reported do not increase concern about the risk to human health and the Agency has not changed its advice to consumers.
Based on samples taken from 248 products, the survey gives a snapshot of the range of acrylamide and furan levels in UK retail foods.
The Agency advises that chips should be cooked to a light golden colour. Bread and bread products should also be toasted to the lightest colour possible. Further information on eating a balanced diet can be found at the NHS Choices link below and advice on how to minimise acrylamide levels is in our section on acrylamide.
As with previous years, the survey results for acrylamide and furan will be sent to the European Food Safety Authority for collation, trend analysis and, in the case of furan, a risk assessment.
This Food Survey Information Sheet (below) reports the results obtained over the period November 2010 - April 2011, which is the fourth year of a rolling programme to measure the levels of the process contaminants acrylamide and furan in a range of UK retail foodstuffs.
The total number of retail products sampled during the survey was 248 and represented the 10 food groups as specified in Commission Recommendation (EU) No. 2010/307 on the monitoring of acrylamide in food. The number of analyses carried out was 248 for acrylamide and 92 for furan.
As with previous years’ data, the acrylamide and furan results from this UK survey have been sent to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for collation with other Member States’ survey data, trend analysis within the EU and, in the case of furan, a risk assessment.
Statistical analyses carried out by the Agency on UK surveillance data, during the period 2007-2011, suggest that there may be an upward trend in acrylamide levels in processed cereal-based baby foods (excluding rusks) and a reduction in acrylamide in some other products such as pre-cooked French fries/potato products for home-cooking and bread. For most products we found no evidence of trends.
Given the relatively small number of products sampled for the UK surveys and the magnitude of these observed trends, it is not possible at this stage to draw any definitive conclusions and therefore further investigation by the Agency may be required to try and establish if changes in manufacturing practice are having the desired effect.
Of the 248 products analysed for acrylamide during the 2010-2011 survey, 13 products were found to contain acrylamide levels that exceeded the ‘indicative value’ (IV) for their food group. Where an acrylamide level has exceeded an IV, the Agency has asked the relevant local authority to investigate.
The number and range of products analysed for furan were increased for the 2010-2011 survey. Products found to contain the lowest levels of furan were potato crisps, instant coffee and coffee substitutes. The highest levels of furan were found in sweet popcorn and roast coffee. This may possibly be due to differences in levels of natural occurring furan precursors in these products and/or their higher processing temperatures. However, no definitive conclusions can be drawn at this stage particularly regarding trends in the levels of furan and additional surveys being undertaken during 2011-2013 will help provide the Agency with further information.
Source: Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency has developed guidance on edible and non-toxic glitters and dusts. This will help food businesses and consumers to safely use glitters and dusts with food.
The Agency is aware that non-edible cake decorating materials, described as dusts or glitters, are being marketed in ways that could be misleading. These include products only labelled as ‘non-toxic’, without stating they are not to be consumed.
As a general rule:
- Only glitter or dust clearly labelled as ‘edible’ should be applied to food for consumption. Dusts or glitters that are edible will be made of permitted additives (such as mica and titanium dioxide) and must comply with the requirements of EU food additives legislation.
- Edible glitter or dust must be labelled with the name or E-number of any additives used and should carry either the statement ‘For food', ‘Restricted use in food' or a more specific reference to their intended food use (for example ‘Edible lustre’).
- ‘Non-toxic’ and inedible glitters that have been tested and meet the requirements of the legislation on food contact materials and articles can be applied to food for decoration, but they cannot be applied to food for consumption. They should be labelled ‘For food contact’ (or alternative wording to show they are not to be eaten) and include instructions for use.
- Other ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts that have not been tested to see if their constituent chemicals migrate into food at levels above legal limits, do not meet the requirements of the legislation on food contact materials and articles. They are not labelled ‘For Food Contact’ (or similar wording to indicate their use) and should not come into contact with food.
Consumers who are unsure if a ‘non-toxic’ glitter or dust is safe for use in contact with food should contact the glitter or dust supplier. Glitter manufacturers have to provide suppliers with a ‘declaration of compliance’ to show the product(s) meet the requirements of legislation for food contact materials and articles.
The FSA is contacting local authorities to help them clarify how glitters and dusts, intended for consumption or decoration, can be used.
The use of glitters and dusts with food
The Food Standards Agency has produced this guidance to help food businesses safely use ‘edible’ and ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts with food. It applies to food that is prepared at home as well as to commercially made products.
As a general rule, only ‘edible’ glitters and dusts can be applied to food for consumption.
It is important to note that glitters and dusts described as ‘non-toxic’ are not the same as products labelled ‘edible’ and should not be eaten. Only ‘non-toxic’ glitters that have been tested for safety for contact with food, can be applied to food for decoration, but not for consumption. They should be labelled ‘For food contact’ (or alternative wording to indicate their use) and include instructions for use. Food businesses should be aware that glitters and dusts that meet the requirements of the food contact materials legislation have not been approved for consumption.
Other ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts that have not been tested for contact with food, and are not labelled ‘For food contact', should not come into contact with food.
What is an edible glitter or dust?
Dusts or glitters that are edible will include permitted additives (such as mica and titanium dioxide) and must comply with the requirements of EU food additives legislation Regulation 1333/2008. Only glitter or dust clearly labelled to show it is suitable for eating should be applied to food for consumption.
Edible glitter or dust must be labelled with the name or E-number of any additives used and carry either the statement ‘For food', ‘Restricted use in food', or a more specific reference to their intended food use (for example ‘Edible lustre’).
What are ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts?
‘Non-toxic’ glitters and dusts are not made from edible materials and must not be eaten.
It is important to note that not all ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts can be applied to food for decoration. Only ‘non-toxic’ and inedible glitters that have been tested and meet with the requirements of the legislation on food contact materials and articles can be applied to food for decoration, but not for consumption. They should be labelled ‘For food contact’ (or alternative wording to show they are not to be eaten) and include instructions for use. They need to be removed entirely from the item before consumption.
Untested ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts do not meet with the requirements of the legislation on food contact materials and articles. They should not be labelled ‘For food contact’ (or similar wording to indicate their use) and should not come into contact food.
If the dust or glitter is only labelled ‘non-toxic’ can it still be applied to food and eaten?
No. Only edible glitters or dusts composed of permitted food additives can be added to cakes and other food for consumption, as long as they comply with the relevant food additives legislation.
Can ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts not intended for consumption be applied to cakes for decoration?
Yes, if they have been tested for safety and meet the requirements of food contact materials Regulation 1935/2004. If they are plastic, they must also meet the requirements of Regulation 10/2011. These glitters and dusts can be applied to food for decoration, but not for consumption.
Consumers would need to be able to remove them entirely from the product, such as a cake or bun, before eating. An example would be non-edible glitters used to decorate ornaments, such as artificial flowers, figurines and candle holders, which are removed from the food before consumption. The glitter on these products would have to be permanently fixed so it does not fall onto the food.
Can food businesses use ‘non-toxic’ glitters and dusts on foods that will be eaten without them being removed?
No. The food business operator must ensure the materials they use are safe, and covering food with inedible substances would pose an unknown level of risk to consumers. Unless the glitter is a recognised food additive (and therefore edible) it should not be used. So-called ‘non-toxic’ glitters, placed on food in a way that cannot be removed entirely before the food is eaten, do not comply with general food law Regulation 178/2002.
Can edible glitters and dusts be used in domestic cake decoration?
Decorative materials used in domestic cake decoration and intended for consumption must meet the requirements of additives legislation Regulation 1333/2008. This allows only permitted additives to be sold to consumers or to be added to food. These products should be labelled to show they are suitable for consumption.
How can consumers be sure they are buying the right type of glitter or dust? Will these products be clearly labelled, for example ‘non-edible’, ‘edible’ or ‘non-toxic’?
Edible glitters have to comply with the requirements for food additives, and will have the appropriate labelling specified in additives legislation. They should be labelled ‘For food', ‘Restricted use in food' or a more specific reference to their intended food use (for example ‘Edible lustre’).
Any other type of glitter, described as ‘non-toxic’, should be regarded as inedible. If the labelling indicates it is suitable for food contact use, for example ‘For food contact’, it can be used to decorate items that can be removed from the food item before consumption.
Can non-edible glitter or dusts be used as sprinkles on food?
As ‘non-edible glitter’ used as sprinkles, on soft icing or buns for example, cannot be entirely removed before consumption, it should not be applied to food. Only edible glitter should be used in this way.
Who is responsible for ensuring glitters and dusts are correctly labelled?
The glitter or dust manufacturer is responsible for ensuring their products are safe, fit for purpose, and labelled correctly. Food businesses unsure about how the product should be used should contact the manufacturer. Glitter manufacturers have to provide suppliers with a ‘declaration of compliance’ to show the product(s) meet the requirements of legislation for food contact materials and articles.
Who can I contact about permitted additives?
The trading standards or environmental health department at your local authority will be able to provide information about permitted additives.
Find your nearest food standards enforcer
Source: The Food Standards Agency
Picture: Courtesy of Daisy Simmonds at Flo & Co Cakes
The Food Standards Agency has launched the Play it Safe campaign, to raise awareness of food safety during the London 2012 Games. The Agency is working with food businesses and food safety enforcement officers to ensure all food sold, cooked and eaten during the Games is safe.
The first strand of the campaign focuses on the Food Safety Squad, the 10 environmental health officers acting as ambassadors for food safety. They represent the hundreds of environmental health officers around the country who are carrying out vital work to keep visitors to the Games safe and healthy.
The campaign highlights the Agency measures being undertaken to minimise the risk of food safety incidents occurring during London 2012. These include a food safety coaching programme for small businesses in Olympic areas that are in need of improvement; funding and training initiatives for local authorities in Olympic areas; and providing extra equipment for sampling and checks on cleaning.
Sarah Appleby, Head of Enforcement and Local Authority Delivery at the FSA, said: ‘London 2012 is about celebrating everything that the UK has to offer, and food plays an important part. We want all food business owners to ensure that everything they sell is the best it can be. It will be an exceptionally busy time for many food businesses, and we’re providing extra support and advice to make sure they’re well prepared to meet the challenge.’
More information will be available on food.gov.uk/olympics and through a dedicated Twitter feed: @playitsafefood
Food Standards Agency launches the ‘Food Safety Squad’
Part of an FSA campaign to ensure all food sold, cooked and eaten during London 2012 is safe
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is leading work with a squad of environmental health officers to increase the focus on food safety in the run up to and during London 2012. Extra hygiene inspections of food outlets aim to ensure that all food sold, cooked and eaten during the Games is safe.
If you require food safety training up to level 4, contact Kitchen Tonic, we are a registered CIEH course provider based in central London call: 020 3371 1516 Twitter: @kitchentonic
Kitchen Tonic has increased the frequency and range of food safety open to public courses to assist you with your legal training requirements. All open food hygiene courses are held in Aldgate East London E1. We can also come to you and provide food safety training for your staff on site.