Food safety standards

These notes are adapted from the Food Standards Agency Food Retail Pack to assist you in the smooth and safe running of your shop.


Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and as such must be avoided at all times. You can trigger cross- contamination through mixing cooked and raw food, or spreading harmful bacteria from hands and equipment.

How to avoid contamination:

  • Good housekeeping. Keep your premises clean, tidy and pest free
  • Repair structural damage as and when it happens, eg. holes in walls
  • Repair or replace any damaged or loose equipment and utensils
  • Make sure your chilled and frozen equipment is well maintained and working properly
  • Always clean and clear as you go. Be sure to throw out all excess packaging
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to use and store cleaning chemicals. Keep them separate from food and ensure they are clearly labelled
  • Make sure that any chemicals you use to control pests are used and stored in the correct way

Personal Hygiene

Staff should always wash their hands before handling food, after breaks, after going to the toilet, after emptying bins, after cleaning, after handling raw meat, poultry or eggs.

Staff should not smoke, drink, eat or chew gum while handling food. Staff should avoid touching their face or nose, or coughing and sneezing.

All staff must wear clean clothes when handling food. Staff handling unwrapped food should ideally wear a clean apron or tabard.

Staff should not wear watches or jewellery (apart from a wedding band) when preparing food.

Staff need to have clean hair. It is best to tie hair back or suitably covered, eg. with a hat or hairnet, especially when handling unwrapped food

Staff should be ‘fit for work’ at all times. This means they should not be suffering from, or carrying, an illness or disease that could put food safety at risk

Cleaning Effectively

Try to keep your shop clean and tidy at all times, eg. mop up spills as soon as they happen and throw packaging away immediately.

Clean floors, counters and storage areas regularly. Clean fridges regularly. Try to transfer the food to another cold storage area while you are doing this.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use cleaning chemicals carefully.


Certain foods need to be kept chilled in order to keep them safe, including those with a ‘use by’ date and food that says ‘keep refrigerated’ on the label.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to position, use and maintain chilling equipment.

Food Safety Standards

Put chilled food in a fridge or other suitable equipment as soon as it is delivered. You must remove food from sale when it passes its ‘use by’ date.

Make sure your equipment is at the correct temperature before you put chilled food in it.

Products should be displayed in a way that allows air to circulate. Do not fill the fridge beyond its capacity, as this will impair its chilling capabilities.


Opening checks. Check that:

  • Your chilled display equipment, fridges and freezers are working properly
  • Staff are fit for work and wearing clean work clothes here are plenty of handwashing and cleaning materials available
  • There are no signs of pests
  • Surfaces are clean
  • The shop is ‘fit to trade’, ie. clean and tidy, shelves stocked, etc.

Closing checks. Check that:

  • Foods that have passed their ‘use by’ date, or any damaged or unfit foods, have been removed from sale
  • Foods removed from sale have been disposed of correctly or place in a special area if being returned to a supplier
  • No unwrapped food is left out - Waste has been removed and new bags put into the bins

Stock control:

  • Review your sales and estimate how much of each product you need to keep in stock
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have the right amount of stock and order carefully. Not having too much stock is best for food safety - and your profit
  • Check all stock when it is delivered to ensure that it’s within its ‘use by’ date and there is enough time to enable it to be sold by this date, it has been kept cold enough, the stock is clean and not damaged.