Food incidents and hazards

Food incidents and hazards

chicken farm

Notification of food incidents and withdrawal and recall of food are requirements of food law for which effective traceability is a necessary prerequisite. Enforcement authorities have responsibilities with regard to the verification of compliance with these requirements, and to advise on and assist food businesses with any notifications, withdrawals and recalls.

Guidance on the responsibilities of Food Authorities

The Food Law Code of Practice deals with food incidents and food hazards that are first identified by Food Authorities.

It gives guidance on the responsibilities of Food Authorities with regard to:

  • Definitions of food incidents/food hazards
  • Documented procedure
  • Food hazards associated with outbreaks of food-borne illness
  • Action by the Food Authority - food hazards

Guidance on the action by the Food Authority

The guidance on the action by the Food Authority in respect of food hazards focuses on the following.

  • Carrying out an assessment to determine the likely scale, extent and severity of the risk to public health or safety of the hazard.
  • Having procedures in place to call the appropriate agencies together to implement urgent control measures whenever they are required.
  • The factors the assessment should include. For example, those which may have a traceability component are:
    • the likely quantity and distribution of the food in the food chain up to the point of consumption;
    • the ability to identify accurately the affected batch(es) or lot(s); the accuracy and extent of records held by the business;
    • the likely effectiveness of any trade withdrawal at all stages of the food chain;
    • the stage(s) at which the fault is likely to have occurred;
    • whether other products produced may have been affected: and Whether the food has been imported or any exported.
  • Taking action to protect public health and safety.
  • Considering what powers are available under food safety legislation.
  • Localised food hazards being dealt with locally by the Food Authority.
  • Serious localised food hazards and non-localised food hazards being notified to the Food Standards Agency at the earliest opportunity and quickest means.
  • The Food Authority‚Äôs responsibility to notify the Food Standards Agency of food incidents and hazards.