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< Food Safety Guidance for Stallholders

Food Safety Guidance for Stallholders

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THE RULES OF HYGIENE - How to control hazards

This leaflet (based on a leaflet produced by Suffolk County Council) explains how to meet the food safety laws that apply to you while trading at a Farmers' Market. It covers the basic areas that apply to typical Farmers' Market stalls but it is essential to contact your Local Environmental Health and Trading Standards to obtain further advice on some of the more complicated food safety issues.

Farmers' Markets are the subject of routine checking by Food Safety officers from your local Environmental Health and Trading Standards Department, who may visit you on the day a market is held. In addition, the farm or other premises from which you operate may also be subject to inspection. Certain Councils now operate a 'Stars on the Doors' scheme which gives all premises handing food a score (up to 5 Stars). The number of Stars awarded to your Market is dependent on how all stallholders meet the Food Safety laws. Farmers' Market Managers should introduce an audit of good practice to ensure 3 (good) or 4 (very good) Stars become the norm.

The law requires you to identify possible hazards to food safety, know which of these is actually important for the type of food that you prepare or sell and to provide suitable controls to stop problems occurring.

i. Transportation

  • Food transported to a market must be wrapped, covered or placed in suitable containers to prevent contamination. Vehicles and containers should be kept clean and in good repair and the food should be kept separate from other items. For example, if you are accustomed to transporting farm dogs, game birds or containers of agricultural diesel in the back of your vehicle, you should think about how you can avoid tainting or direct contamination of fruit and vegetables.
  • Simple cardboard boxes and paper-lined crates are fine for most agricultural produce but you will need higher grade materials, such as metal or plastic crates, for bakery products and meats.
  • Some foods must be kept cold (below 8 oC) to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria. These include soft or semi-hard cheeses, most other dairy products, cooked meat and vegetable products, most smoked or cured meat and fish and shellfish. Insulated containers with icepacks and a thermometer are usually sufficient and the temperature must be checked from time to time (and preferably written down in a log book). Larger volume traders should consider using refrigerated vehicles.

ii. Preparation

  • The surface that you lay out or prepare food on must be smooth and impervious so that it can be thoroughly cleaned. If you are using wooden tables, you must provide plastic sheeting or other suitable covering material.
  • You will need to wash and dry your hands from time to time and if facilities are not provided on site, you must bring your own. For stallholders selling open foods, such as meats, or high risk unwrapped foods such as cooked meats, dairy products and seafoods, there must be hand washing facilities at the stall. These should include a supply of hot water, towels, bowl, soap and preferably a nailbrush. For hot water, insulated flasks should be sufficient in most cases.
  • If you are using knives or other serving implements you will need separate washing facilities for these, i.e. they must not be the same as those used for hand washing.
  • Wear clean protective over clothing while handling unwrapped food.

iii. Display and Service

  • To avoid possible contamination, food must not be placed directly onto the floor. It is best to keep all unwrapped food off the ground by at least 45cm.
  • Make sure that high risk and low risk foods are well separated- for example, keep raw foods away from cooked foods. The high risk foods described in ii above should be protected from the public touching, coughing or sneezing in the display area.
  • Check the temperature of chilled foods from time to time and preferably keep a record of this in a logbook. Make sure you know the correct temperature for the food that you are selling.
  • Regularly wipe down surfaces with a clean (preferably disposable) cloth using a food grade cleaner/disinfectant.
  • If the market does not have refuse services, make sure you have sacks or containers for waste food and water.

iv. Training and basic hygiene measures

It is not obligatory in law for all market traders to have attended courses on training in Food Hygiene but you must at least be aware of the basic principles that apply to the safe handling and preparation of food. However, if you are running a retail food stall or business, or if you are manufacturing food at home or from other premises, you will need some specific training. Your local market may require evidence of attendance at Food Hygiene training before allowing you to join. If you are in any doubt as to what is required, your local Environmental Health Department will be happy to advise you.

For basic retailing operations, such as for selling fruit and vegetables, or for bakery products that do not contain meat or cream, the following advice should be of help.

  • Keep yourself clean and wear protective clothing.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling food, after using the toilet, handling raw food or waste and after every break.
  • If you have a skin, nose or throat problem or an infected wound, do not handle unwrapped food.
  • If you have a stomach upset, do not handle food for at least 48hrs after you are free of symptoms
  • Ensure that cuts, spots or sores are covered with a brightly coloured waterproof plaster.
  • Do not smoke, eat or drink where open food is handled.
  • Clean as you go - keep all equipment and surfaces clean and disinfected.
  • Avoid unnecessary handling of food.

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