FSA grant to help train caterers in food safety

A grant of £252,000 from the Food Standards Agency is being used in North Hampshire to help train local catering businesses in food safety.

Winchester City Council is part of a consortium of six Local Authorities from North Hampshire and the training organisation CMi Consulting. The grant comes as a result of new EU regulations which aim to improve consumer protection and make it easier for caterers to implement hygiene rules.

Cllr Jim Wagner, the City Council's Portfolio Holder for Environmental Health, described the grant as great news for the City Council and especially for its local catering businesses.

"We want to raise standards wherever we can, not only to protect the public but to help our local businesses flourish.  We are pleased to see that the FSA's Safer Food, Better Business pack is designed to make it easier to get it right and we are looking forward to assisting businesses in Winchester to get even better," he added.

The money will help catering businesses implement Safer Food, Better Business, the FSAs new simplified approach to understanding how to manage food safety and reduce levels of food poisoning in people eating out. The FSA has developed SFBB to help catering businesses, particularly smaller ones, comply with new European food safety legislation that comes into effect in January next year.

The FSA said: "These awards are part of a rolling programme to assist local authorities to provide information that food businesses will need to comply with the new EU hygiene regulations and to make sure food sold to people when they eat out is as safe as possible.

We have developed the Safer Food, Better Business pack to make the transition to the new rules simple and free of red tape.

The North Hampshire Consortium consists of Winchester City Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hart District Council, Test Valley Borough Council, East Hampshire District Council and Rushmoor Borough Council plus CMi Consulting, They have joined together and will run a project over a period of 18 months to provide business workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions in over 1200 catering outlets across North Hampshire.

The new EU Food Hygiene Legislation will apply to all food businesses in the EU from January 1, 2006. It simplifies and updates 17 existing food hygiene directives, which contain inconsistencies and duplication, with three more flexible and pragmatic regulations.

The main requirements are that businesses draw up and follow new risk-based procedures to control hygiene hazards based on a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach. Businesses will also have to keep records to show how any hazards to food safety have been identified and properly handled. Safer food, better business is a common-sense simple approach that allows small businesses to meet these new requirements.