Over the past few months there have been a number of food hygiene concerns within the UK meat industry. The high level of coverage surrounding these cases has pushed food safety to the top of the agenda for many businesses within the food industry.
The Guardian recently reported that a more than half of all audited meat plants have had at least one “major” hygiene breach in the last three years. A major hygiene breach is defined by the FSA as a non-compliance ‘likely to compromise public health, including food safety… or may lead to the production and handling of unsafe of unsuitable food if no remedial action is taken.’ Common causes for the major non-conformities featured within the report include insufficient temperature controls, lack of systems to prevent cross contamination, traceability and identification of animal byproducts.
On the 20th of February, the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and representatives of the UK meat industry released a joint statement to address current concerns with regards to food safety within the meat industry.
“We recognise that some concerns have been uncovered by recent regulatory inspections. In most cases businesses involved have taken actions to demonstrate compliance and continue to trade normally. Where those concerns were serious, enforcement procedures have been put in place.
We will continue to work together to support meat businesses in fully understanding what is expected of them in relation to current regulations and ensuring full and effective industry engagement with the forthcoming FSA/FSS review of cutting plants and cold stores.”
There are a number of steps businesses within the food industry can take to improve their food safety systems and reduce the risk of food hygiene breaches.
First and foremost, a positive food safety culture should be encouraged in all sectors of the business. For all stages of the supply chain, from raw material procurement, manufacturing to storage and distribution, all systems should be monitored to ensure that food safety systems are in place to protect the product.
Senior roles within the business should promote and encourage ongoing dedication to product quality and effective safety systems. This attitude to food safety should be mirrored by all employees and ongoing training can be used to support this. A positive food safety culture can improve efficiency, boost staff morale and ensure a good reputation for your business, ultimately increasing profits.
Food hygiene breaches can cause irreparable damage to brand reputation, as we have seen with recent high profile closures. Highly publicised breaches can be incredibly damaging for relationships with existing and potential clients, often pass the point of repair. It is incredibly important to take action to improve the standard of food safety systems and reduce the risk of a breach.
To find our how your business can improve its food safety hygiene systems, submit an enquiry below or talk to an expert on 08450 267 745.