1. Controlling hazards
You must identify possible hazards to food safety and know which are important for the type of food you sell. You must have controls in place to stop problems occurring.
Food must be wrapped, covered or placed in suitable containers to prevent contamination. Vehicles and containers should be kept clean and in good repair and the food should be kept separate from other items.
Simple cardboard boxes and paper-lined crates are fine for most agricultural produce but you will need higher-grade materials, such as metal or plastic crates, for bakery products and meats.
Some foods must be kept cold (at or below 8oC) to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria. These high-risk foods include soft or semi-hard cheeses, most other dairy products, cooked meat and poultry products, most smoked or cured meat and fish, shellfish and cooked rice. Insulated containers with ice packs and a thermometer are usually sufficient and the temperature must be checked from time to time (and preferably written down in a logbook). Larger volume traders should consider using refrigerated vehicles.
The surface you use to lay out or prepare food must be smooth and impervious so that it can be thoroughly cleaned. If you're using wooden tables, you must provide plastic sheeting or other suitable covering material.
You will need to wash and dry your hands from time to time and if facilities are not provided on site, you must bring your own. For stallholders selling open foods, such as meats, or high risk unwrapped foods such as cooked meats, dairy products and seafood, there must be hand washing facilities at the stall. These should include a supply of hot water, towels, bowl, soap and preferably a nail brush. For hot water, insulated flasks should be sufficient in most cases.
If you are using knives or other serving implements you will need washing facilities for these, which must not be the same as those used for hand washing - separate bowls or sinks must be used.
Clean protective over clothing must be worn whilst handling unwrapped food.
Display and service
Food must not be placed directly onto the floor. It is best to keep all unwrapped food off the ground by at least 45cm (18 inches).
Make sure that high risk and low risk foods are well separated. For example, keep raw foods away from cooked foods. High-risk foods should be protected from the public touching, coughing or sneezing in the display area. This could be achieved by sneeze guards or covering such foods.
The temperature of chilled foods must be checked from time to time and a record of checks should be made in a logbook. Make sure you know which foods should be kept at the prescribed temperature.
Regularly wipe down surfaces with a clean (preferably disposable) cloth using a food grade cleaner/disinfectant.
If the market does not have refuse services, make sure you have sacks or containers for waste food and water. Waste food must be disposed of correctly, for example waste food containing animal proteins (or meat) must not be used as pig feed.
Training and basic hygiene measures
All market traders who are handling or preparing food must be supervised, instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters. You must be aware of the basic principles that apply to the safe handling and preparation of food. So, if you have no experience of running a retail food stall or business, or if you are manufacturing food at home or from other premises, it is strongly recommended that you take some hygiene training. You may find that your local market will require evidence of such training before allowing you to join.
For basic retailing operations involving food, make sure you:
- keep yourself clean and wear protective clothing
- always wash your hands thoroughly before handling food, after using the toilet, handling raw food or waste and after every break
- if you have a skin, nose or throat problem or an infected wound, do not handle unwrapped food
- if you have a stomach upset, do not handle food for at least 48hrs after you are free of symptoms
- ensure that cuts, spots or sores are covered with a brightly coloured waterproof plaster
- do not smoke, eat or drink where open food is handled
- clean as you go - keep all equipment and surfaces clean and disinfected
- avoid unnecessary handling of food
Documented food safety management systems
You must have a documented food safety management. The type of system you adopt will depend on your type of business. A very low risk business such as a sweetshop would need to follow good hygiene practice whereas a food manufacturer would need fully documented HACCP. A caterer is somewhere in between.
The Food Standards Agency has produced a pack for caterers and retailers entitled Safer Food Better Business.