Food Safety Forecast: What to Look Out for in 2016

As the world continues to adjust in the wake of Christmas and New Year, the wheels have been set in motion on a raft of new food safety legislation set to be rolled out over the next 12 months. While it’s impossible to say what the biggest and most shocking food safety story of 2016 will be at this stage, we think it’s important for food and hospitality businesses to keep abreast of any and all policy changes set to come into play throughout the year.

With this in mind, here’s a breakdown of some of the food safety regulation changes you should keep on your radar over the next 12 months.

Nutrition Labelling Becomes Mandatory

In 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation board published its Official Journal of the European Union. Contained within were plans to make considerable changes to the nutrition labelling system applied to different foods across numerous sectors. After the paper was published, businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors were given two years to make the appropriate transitional arrangements — with 2016 being the year in which the new labelling procedure will be enforced once and for all.

For those businesses affected, they’ll now be required to display more nutritional information on food products, in accordance with the EU’s stringent guidelines. In addition to current nutritional values, food businesses will now have to display additional allergen information on certain foods, as well as the country of origin. A minimum font for nutrition declarations will also apply to all pre-packaged food products.

Increased Penalties for Food Safety Offences

As previously covered on the Shieldyourself blog, tougher sentencing laws will be introduced in February with the aim to clamp down on those flouting food safety laws (as well as health and safety laws more generally). News of these new penalties was first published in November, when the Sentencing Council announced that it was increasing the fines and sentences for businesses in breach of serious health and safety legislation.

Among the offences which will carry heightened penalties from February are corporate manslaughter, hygiene infractions and other serious food safety offences. Under the new legislation, offending businesses will face heftier fines and longer jail terms for food safety offences — examples of which include causing an E.coli outbreak through poor food preparation practices, and providing staff with insufficient training which subsequently leads to a serious incident.

More Unannounced Food Safety Audits and Inspections

In an effort to crack down on basic food safety breaches, the FSA has unveiled that it will be increasing its amount of unannounced food safety audits and inspections in 2016 — particularly among food retailers and independent vendors. This news has prompted large retailers, such as The Co-Operative Group, to make changes to their current food safety auditing system — primarily to avoid unwanted intervention by the FSA.

In light of the increase in unannounced food safety audits, smaller food retailers and outlets should implement a comprehensive approach to food safety to avoid costly infractions.

Crackdown on Sous Vide Cooking and Rare Burgers

Over the past year or so, a vast quantity of new restaurants and eateries have emerged specialising in sous vide style cooking, as well as rare cooked burgers. While these forms of food preparation continue to prove very successful, concerns have arose regarding the overall safety of such culinary practises — something which we’ve previously covered on the Shieldyourself blog.

Over the next 12 months, we predict that food safety inspectors will be hot on the heels of those specialising in sous vide and rare burgers; checking that all of the appropriate safety measures are in place to protect the public from the risks associated with undercooked meat.

At Shieldyourself, our food safety compliance services can help your business stay on top of any food safety legislation changes. For more information about how we can help you, visit our homepage or call us on 020 3432 0591.

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Mark Flanagan

Blogs, Food Safety

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