The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is seeking the views of food manufacturers based in England on its updated guidance for food handlers.
The FSA said the publication replaces guidelines published in 1995, reflects the current regulatory framework, and has additional information on viruses.
The agency said the legal requirements underpinning the document are in Annex II, Chapter VIII of Regulation (EC) 852/2004, which applies to all food businesses except primary producers.
Focus on SMEs
A FSA spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com that the draft guidance on food handlers’ fitness to work is targeted in particular at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK food manufacturing and food service sector.
“The leading UK food manufacturers put a lot of time and effort into compliance with food safety regulation and can rely on in-house technical expertise, but the smaller operators often do not have these resources readily available to them.”
“This updated guide will enable the SMEs to keep up to date with legal requirements to ensure the safety of the food they produce,” said the spokesperson.
Food handlers who work with infected while infected with certain bacteria or viruses can spread infection to other people through food they work with, stated the FSA.
According to the UK body, the new guidelines will help managers and staff to prevent the spread of infection by advising which illness and symptoms staff should report and what managers should do in response.
Need for new guidelines
Following the 1995 guidance publication would not likely lead to public health risks or legal compliance problems, said the agency, but the legal references, balance of technical content, presentation and publication arrangements severely restrict its accessibility and usefulness today.
The spokesperson said that the final version of the guidelines will take into account any comments arising out of the consultation process and the final publication date will thus depend on the revisions required as a result of the feedback.
He added that feedback has also been sought on the publication arrangements for the final document; currently, it is envisaged that it will be published online only for cost and sustainability reasons.
The agency said the consultation process will last for 12 weeks.
The FSA draft guidance for food handlers can be downloaded here .