Nowadays, more and more people are deciding to leave the world of employment behind and step into roles where they set up their own businesses and work for themselves. There are so many reasons behind this and so many reasons that you might want to consider engaging with this practice yourself.
When you run your own business, you get to decide what you do. You choose what areas you specialize in, what you offer to the consumer market, who you engage with, who you associate yourself with, and how your brand comes across. You gain control and independence within your career path. But it’s also important to remember that you don’t only have to answer to yourself.
Whatever field you enter, you’re going to have to abide by certain legalities that are put in place for the protection of everyone involved with your company and the products it provides, including yourself, your customers, and the general public. For now, let’s focus on legal issues within the field of commercial food and drink. If you’re planning on heading into this area, you really do need to familiarise yourself with rules and regulations to ensure that you are abiding by the law and can maintain a good reputation!
All Businesses Dealing With Food
There are certain rules that all businesses dealing with food must abide by. So, let’s start by looking over these, as they’re likely to apply to your company, regardless of what you may be providing. First of all, you must ensure that all food is safe to eat, which also means that you cannot add, remove, or treat any food in a way that could make it harmful for someone to eat. You must ensure that the food you provide is genuinely of the quality that you say it is – otherwise you will be mis-selling it. You must also avoid misleading people in the way that any food you’re providing is described, labeled, marketed, or advertised. It is paramount that you trace any food or ingredients that you are selling and that you have records of this ready to show on demand.
Commercial and Retail
First, let’s focus on commercial and retail-based food and drink. Many businesses supply consumers with food and drink that can be purchased and taken home or consumed away from the establishment they purchased it in. If you work in this field, you might supply packaged and fresh goods in your own store or you might create products that are then supplied by others’ stores.
Chances are that you’re going to package the food and drink you’re supplying in some way. Not only does this protect the products from coming into contact with anything else, but it serves as a great means of branding – you can really help to separate your products from the competition. Whether you use drink pouches, boxes, or other containers, you need to abide by some pretty serious rules. First of all, your packaging needs to stick to labelling requirements. Labels on food allow people to determine all sorts of information about what’s inside. It’s essential, as different people have different requirements, allergies, ethical stances, and general preferences. The labels on your packaging should detail:
- The name of the food
- A full list of all ingredients
- Quantity of certain ingredients
- Net quantity of food
- A use by date
- Storage conditions or conditions of use
- Country or place of origin and provenance
- Nutritional declarations
- Highlighted ingredients or processing aids that could provoke individuals with allergies or intolerances
If you are selling alcoholic products, your labelling should also detail alcohol strength by volume, as a well as guidance on drinking in moderation.
If you are running a dining establishment where you are serving people fresh food and drink to be consumed on premises, there are other health and safety guidelines that you must adhere to. Similar rules tend to apply to commercial kitchens, restaurants, hotels, cafes, fast food outlets, pubs, and clubs that serve food.
Managing food hygiene is the most important part of running any business that serves food to customers. You should come up with a plan to ensure that your company complies with rules and ensures that your food is safe from biological, chemical, and physical contamination and safety hazards. Not only should your food be clean, but anything that has to come into contact with food should be clean too – this could include food processing equipment, cookware, and work surfaces.
Food Hygiene Training
Anyone working with food in your establishment should be officially trained in food hygiene. There are specialist courses out there that will provide them with the necessary knowledge to comply with food hygiene standards. Anyone who does not have this certification should not be working with food.
Food Hygiene Ratings
Establishments undergo food hygiene testing and receive a score that reflects the quality of their operations. You must display your food hygiene rating to the public, so they can make an informed decision regarding whether to dine with you or not. If you are unhappy with your result, you can’t just hide it away. You will, instead, have to actively work on genuinely improving your hygiene rating.
If you are serving alcohol, you will need licensing. Not only will the premises that you’re selling alcohol on need a licence, but individuals serving alcohol will need a licence too. You will need to complete an application form to apply for any type of licence, as well as paying a fee. Individuals looking for a licence in selling alcohol will also need to undertake training. This will ensure that they know how to safely serve these beverages in a responsible manner.
As you can see, there are all sorts of legalities that come hand in hand with professionally operating in the field of food and drink. These are just a few – we have only scratched the surface! But it’s absolutely paramount that you abide by any law, rule, or regulation. Not only for your own sake, but for the sake of your customers too!