What does due diligence mean in food safety?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
It is a legal requirement that anyone who produces, distributes or sells any food products must comply with food hygiene regulations. As part of this, being able to demonstrate that you are compliant is very important. There is no point in being 100% compliant if you cannot demonstrate to an inspector that you are. At the very worst, what if something were to happen that is not in your control, but because you can’t demonstrate your compliance, you end up liable? Not a great thought, is it? In this blog, we will take a look at due diligence and explain what it means and how you can demonstrate it.
Table of contents
What is due diligence?
Very simply, due diligence is being able to prove that you have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the food you produce, handle or sell is safe and that your business complies with current legislative requirements.
What legislation covers food safety?
Anyone involved in the production, distribution or sale of food must comply with multiple pieces of food safety legislation. In England, the primary legislation governing food safety is the Food Safety Act 1990, while the devolved nations have their own legislation, such as the Food (Scotland) Act 2015.
How do I prove due diligence?
The first thing to do is ensure that you have a good management system in place which covers all your policies, procedures and your HACCP (Hazardous Area Critical Control Point) system. You should then keep records of adherence to these systems. Such records will include things such as:
- Your use of approved suppliers and how you approve suppliers along with any supplier audits that you carry out.
- Details of how your workplace environment is compliant (e.g. being made from the correct materials).
- How you prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen and how you check for cross-contamination
- Your HACCP system, how you control the risks and evidence that you check and review these controls regularly.
- Your cleaning schedule and personal hygiene procedures and regular audits and inspections to show compliance
- Records of your fridge and freezer temperatures along with the required limits
- Your equipment maintenance procedures.
- Labelling procedures, including for allergens and inspections to check compliance
- Waste disposal controls
- Pest control processes and details of any mitigation
- Training and supervision of staff
- How you monitor and update records.
- Regular audits of the whole system including record keeping
It is important that your system and record keeping is robust, regularly reviewed, accurate and complete. If you do that, then under the Food Safety Act, you could have a due diligence defence should anything go wrong. The Act states that there is a due diligence defence if:
- They carried out reasonable checks of their food in all the circumstances or it was reasonable for them to rely on checks carried out by the person who supplied the food.
- The offence was due to an act or default of another person who was not under the business’s control, or due to reliance on information supplied by this person. For example, if they needed to inform the business of an allergy.
- They had no reason to suspect that an act or omission would result in an offence under the relevant provision.
Food Safety Training
It is clear that it is important to ensure due diligence in the food industry but it isn’t a simple matter. Chris Garland Training run several food safety courses; from our 1 day in-person Level 2 in food safety, to an intensive 2-day course for those who handle food outdoors. We also have accredited courses for food safety in an early years environment, retail environment and food manufacturing, as well as multiple online courses including Level 2 and 3 food allergen courses to name a few. Why not contact us to discuss your food safety training needs, we will be very glad to help you.