The Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidance to industry is being issued as part of the implementation of the new EU hygiene regulations. It is part of a series of guides the FSA is issuing for the food industry on the complex regulations.
The new guidance contains advice on the types of foods that are required to be held under temperature control. It also gives guidance on the circumstances when processors are allowed to deviate from the temperature control requirements.
"The guidance is intended to complement best practices in the food industry, which might involve, for example, keeping foods at chill temperatures below the legal maximum and thereby providing additional assurances of food safety," the Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated in issuing the draft guidance.
The package of five new EU laws, which replaced 14 different directives, sets down clearer and more harmonised rules on the hygiene of foodstuffs, specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin, and specific rules for controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption.
The hygiene package came into effect on 1 January this year and served to revoke a number of national regulations, including the UK's Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995.
The majority of the text in the document has not changed from the guidance previously issued by the Department of Health on the 1995 regulations, the FSA stated.
Although a formal consultation is not required, the Agency wishes to seek views from outside the FSA before it moves to publishing the guidance.
The guidance will apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Separate guidance will be available in Scotland, where different national rules apply.
The deadline for comments on the draft is 18 August 2006.
The FSA is also in the process of assessing all national good practice guides to ensure they are in compliance with the EU's hygiene legislation. The EU's legislation requires the development of national guides to good hygiene practice and the application of HACCP principles, known as good practice guides.
The guides are being developed by individual food sector associations. Food processors may choose to use recognised good practice guides to help them comply with the requirements of the hygiene regulations and related measures.
When a food business follows the advice in a recognised guide, the enforcement authority must take this into account when assessing compliance with the regulations.
The European Commission has also developed EU-wide guides on the legislation.