The average business has countless regulatory demands to cover and nowhere is that more pronounced than in catering. Food can be a huge vector for human illness and so it has always been the case that regulators try to keep a tight lid on disease. The impact of not following the rules can be disastrous, as one Plympton coffee shop found when they were fined £42,000 for breaching rules, according to the BBC. New regulations come in all the time to help customers, and the business, stay safe - sticking to them is important, whether your restaurant is new or old.
One of the most important pieces of health and safety legislation to make its way into legislation is Natasha’s Law. In 2018, a girl died after eating an incorrectly labelled baguette. As a result, the government legislated in 2019, according to the NARF, to ensure that food products receive proper labelling. With guidelines set to come into force in October 2018, businesses will now have to ensure that all pre-packed food is labelled exhaustively when it comes to potential allergens in the kitchen environment - the ‘may contain’ disclaimer will no longer do. Breaching the law could result in fines or even criminal action. Protecting customers is important, as is protecting your business, and this goes a long way.
The FSA Code
Natasha’s Law is a statutory instrument; other areas of regulation are updated more frequently, and that includes the Food and Feed Code. The Food Standards Agency have recently made updates to this guidance in line with two main factors - changes brought about by COVID-19, and alignment with EU policy in the post-Brexit world. These changes can be quite varied and are sometimes not particularly well-aligned for businesses - they can include general measures, and issues that aren’t easily understood without professional help. Refer to a solicitor or use online help to pick through the issues if you’re not sure, but alignment with the EU will continue to be a hot issue.
The impact of imbalances between EU and UK regulations when it comes to food is already obvious. Exeter is no stranger to this; the city features heavily in seafood and dairy exports. Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in the city already shuttered, partly due to Brext. The Guardian notes that such exports have already fallen by £2 billion in 2021 alone, and a large reason for this is regulatory imbalance. What can you do to adapt? There isn’t a blanket ban on exporting to the EU - in fact, far from it. The main difference is that there’s more paperwork and bureaucracy to get through. If your catering business has a third party sales process, consider getting in line with regulations and making that extra effort to keep your food flowing.
There’s a lot to consider as the owner of a catering business. Especially so in Exeter, where the economy so relies on its food industry. Diligence is the answer - be aware, keep refreshing your knowledge, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.