Food Law News - UK - 2008

FSA Consultation Letter, 5 November 2008

HYGIENE - Food Handlers Fitness to Work: A Practical Guide for Food Business Operators

A copy of the draft guidance is available on this site. See: Draft Fitness to Work Guidance

The Food Standards Agency is seeking views on updated guidance on food handlers' fitness to work. Responses are requested by: 28 January 2009

Consultation details

The key aspects of the updated guidance document are that it:

When responding, please state whether you are responding as a private individual or on behalf of an organisation/company (with a brief summary of the people it represents).

The guidance document will update and replace the existing guidance on the subject for food businesses, enforcement officers and health professionals that was published by the Department of Health in 1995. Ownership of the guidance passed to FSA when it was set up in 2000.

The FSA has decided to update that guidance and improve its accessibility and usability. As part of this, we have tailored the document to be of practical use to food business operators, although it will also be useful to enforcers and as best practice guidance for primary producers. It is considered that health professionals have sufficient alternative guidance available to them.

The scope of the document has changed slightly from the 1995 version in that, as with the legislation underpinning it, the guidance now applies for the first time to all food businesses, including premises that require approval to handle and produce food of animal origin, except for primary producers.

It is proposed that in the first instance the final revised guidance document will be published on the FSA website. Other publication options will be considered should there be demand for hard copies for example.

Any comments you may have on the draft guidance document would be helpful. To help structure your comments you may wish to focus on the following areas:

This consultation exercise is only relevant to England. Separate consultations on the draft UK guidance document will take place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

No impact assessment has been produced because the changes to the document are largely about its presentation and usability. However, if you feel that the revised version imposes any new burdens on you or your business, then please explain this in your response and it will be taken into account.


Food handlers who work while infected with certain bacteria or viruses can spread infection to other people through food they work with. This guidance will help managers and staff to prevent the spread of infection by advising which illnesses and symptoms staff should report and what managers should do in response.

Legal requirements underpinning this are in Annex II, Chapter VIII of Regulation (EC) 852/2004, which apply to all food businesses except primary producers. The guidance provides advice to UK food businesses on compliance with these requirements and information about best practice in this area.

The guidance updates and replaces the existing guidance on this subject published by the Department of Health in 1995. Following the existing guidance would not likely lead to public health risks or legal compliance problems, but the legal references, balance of technical content, presentation and publication arrangements severely restrict its accessibility and usefulness today. The guidance plays an important role in helping food businesses to ensure the safety of the food they produce so the FSA has decided to update and re-publish it.

The draft updated guidance takes into account the latest evidence and science and best practice principles for the production of guidance material for industry.

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