You may have come across two terms: ‘food safety’ and ‘food hygiene’. Have you ever thought of their concepts and how they relate to your food business? People tend to perceive these terms interchangeably, however, they bear different concepts.
The term ‘ food safety’ relates to the risk management systems that food businesses must have in place if they sell, produce or handle foods. There are various pieces of legislation, including those originated from the European Union that regulate food safety, nonetheless, the main key framework lies primarily with the Food Safety Act 1990.
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency is the regulating authority that partners with local authorities to ensures that all food and drink establishment, including restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and supermarkets, distribute food that is safe to eat and advertised accordingly to its substance. There are three elements to the food safety system: hygienic food handling practices of all staff, the management and condition of the business premises and food management systems.
Thus, to sum up, the term ‘food safety’ covers an entire risk management system of the essential practices and processes that food establishments must follow.
The term ‘food hygiene’ is a subcategory of the term ‘food safety’. On its own, it does not cover all key elements of food safety. Food hygiene can be defined as the processes that directly involve handling of food, such as preparation, cooking and storage. Good food hygiene practices ensure that customers consume food that is safe to eat. Principal elements of food hygiene include: prevention of food cross-contamination, allergen control, safe storage and cooking temperatures and personal hygiene matters of all food handlers.
Knowing the difference between ‘food safety’ and ‘food hygiene’ concepts can assist you to better understand what level of knowledge, training and practices you or your food handlers require. This knowledge can help you to improve business operation processes and enable you to fulfil your legal obligations.