Many people have concerns regarding using private catering companies as they are unsure how regulated they may be in terms of food and hygiene and the environmental health. The truth is that regardless of who is running it or where it is being run from, if you are providing a food service to the public then by law you have to be regulated and inspected. The following may help to set your mind at ease when it comes to hiring private catering firms but if ever you are unsure you can ask the company to provide you with evidence that they are legitimate.
The Environmental Health
Any business that is going to be providing food or drink to the public is required to register their business with the Environmental Health. The reason for this is so that all businesses can receive regular inspections to ensure that they are complying with all standards and regulations set out by the Food Hygiene Commission and the Environmental Health. If you are registering a catering businesses then it must be done at least 28 days before you are due to open your business or services to the public.
Any business in the United Kingdom that makes or prepares food for public consumption will be inspected in order to protect the public from danger. When an inspector visits they will check everything they need to thoroughly including;
- Food hygiene records
- Stock and how it is stored
- Staff and how they work including what they wear
- Food preparation areas
- Food disposal areas
- Cleaning areas
Food hygiene is crucial for providing safe food for the public. If you want to check that a business is registered with the environmental health then visit www.food.gov.uk or contact your local council or authority.
Regardless of whether a catering company is operating from home, a mobile van or from business premises, those premises have to comply with all regulations. For example, if a catering business operates from home then it will be expected to have the right equipment so that the area is fit for purpose as well as being safe to prepare food in. All premises are inspected by law to ensure that they comply.
Failure to comply
Failure to comply with food hygiene standards or with the environmental health can have drastic consequences for a business. Inspectors do not have to give notice of an inspection and have every right to enter and inspect premises that provide food to the public. If an inspector feels that it is necessary, they can remove samples of food for testing or simply seize all food if they feel it poses an immediate threat to the public. Inspectors have the authority to serve businesses with a notice and can even have businesses prosecuted if they fail to comply with the law. On most occasions, businesses are given a period of time to rectify any issues found on an inspection. However, if the recommended rectifications have not been made then they may take further action against the business in question.