Food Distribution

Food Distribution

Introduction
With so many transport operators involved in the storage, handling and distribution of foodstuffs within the UK and Europe, this section is an overview of recent legislative changes and facts you should be aware of.

New food hygiene laws have applied in the UK since January 2006. They affect all food businesses, including caterers, primary producers (such as farmers), manufacturers, distributors and retailers - they are:

The Legislation and general hygiene requirements for all food business operators are laid down in Regulation 852/2004. This regulation also relates to the organisation of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption. The legislation introduces a 'farm to fork' approach to food safety, by including primary production (that is, farmers and growers) in food hygiene legislation, for the first time in the majority of cases.

Registration and approval
All food business establishments should be registered with the competent authority, such as the Meat Hygiene Service or the local authority environmental health department, depending on the type of business, at least 28 days before food operations take place. 'Food business' means any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any stage of production, processing and distribution of food.
Food business establishments that handle food of animal origin must generally be approved by the competent authority. If a business needs approval it does not need to register as well. However, food businesses that only transport food of animal origin need only register.

HACCP principles
Refigerated Trailer HACCP stands for 'Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point'. It is an internationally recognised and recommended system of food safety management. It focuses on identifying the 'critical points' in a process where food safety problems (or 'hazards') could arise and putting steps in place to prevent things going wrong. This is sometimes referred to as 'controlling hazards'. Keeping records is also an important part of HACCP systems.

The new legislation requires food business operators (except farmers and growers) to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure, or procedures, based on HACCP principles - although the legislation is structured so that it can be applied flexibly and proportionately according to the size and nature of the food business. 'Food business operator' means the natural or legal persons responsible for ensuring that the requirements of food law et within the food business under their control.

Temperature control requirements
There also specific additional provisions contained in food hygiene regulations concerning:

Quick Frozen Foodstuffs (QFF)
The Quick-frozen Foodstuffs Regulations 1990 lay down that quick-frozen foods (but not other frozen foods) must be kept at -18C 3C during transport. The regulations as amended also require appropriate instruments to indicate or record the air temperature in which quickfrozen foodstuffs are transported.

Vehicles used for local distribution simply have to be equipped with one or more easily visible thermometers. Other vehicles have to be fitted with a temperature recorder which measures the air temperature and records it, either continuously or at frequent and regular intervals. These instruments must operate to prescribed limits of accuracy, have a display resolution of no more than 1C and be robust and shockproof. There is no detailed specification or approval procedure.
Temperature records must be kept for at least a year, and produced for inspection upon demand.

The Quick-Frozen Foodstuffs (England) Regulations 2007 came into force on 1 March 2007. The 2007 regulations carry forward, and consolidate, the existing requirements on conditions that must be fulfilled by QFF, existing requirements on sampling procedures and official methods of analysis of temperatures, as well as including the new requirements of temperature monitoring equipment as set out in Commission Regulation 37/2005.

The key new requirements of Regulation 37/2005 are:

Further Reading
For further information on general food regulation and specifically the EU regulation that affects Distributors/Transporters of food stuffs, please use the links below to be taken to the the Food Standards Agency website.

2006 food hygiene legislation - Food Standards Agency

Regulation & Legislation (General) - Food Standards Agency

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