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What Is Due Diligence in Food Safety?

Updated: Apr 28

Man working at a food stall.

Due diligence refers to the main defence under food safety law for food businesses who have deemed to have taken all precautions required to prevent any issues or offences when it comes to the safety and hygiene of their food products.


In this Article:


Essential for Food Safety

If your business works with food, whether as a caterer, restaurant, café, food truck or takeaway place, it is essential that your business follows all the necessary steps to conduct due diligence and prove the food safety and hygiene of your products.

Due diligence is a vital part of food safety as it concerns the food and drink that customers will consume and consists of checks and assessments regarding every aspect of your business. This is a vital part of providing a level of customer service that meets the UK health and safety standards.



The Due Diligence Defence


Businesses are advised to keep all evidence of their food safety practices which will protect your business by proving you have done everything possible to prevent a safety and hygiene breach. Due diligence also means that your food business correctly and efficiently processes food and provides a minimised risk of problems.



Food Safety Legislation


The Food Safety Act 1990 states that all businesses that produce, distribute or sell food must follow certain regulations to make sure that their food is safe to consume and makes it an offence to process or sell food that is harmful to consumers’ health.

Other offences outlined include selling food not ‘of the nature of substance and quality’ required by the consumer such as wrongly labelled food as organic or healthy when it isn't as well as falsely presenting or describing food.


Practicing Due Diligence in Food Safety


If food businesses correctly follow the food safety legislations and do everything they can to prevent such offences with checks, inspections and assessments, they are practicing their due diligence and should have nothing to worry about.

The due diligence defence is designed to both protect consumers when it comes to harmful food as well as protect businesses when they have taken all the necessary precautions in practicing due diligence to avoid situations like this. Businesses may have to provide evidence as proof of their due diligence.


washing hands


What Are the Four C’s of Food Safety?


  1. Cleaning - All areas of food preparation should be cleaned, including washing hands and surfaces in order to reduce bacteria.

  2. Cooking - Food must be cooked to the right temperature in order to kill any harmful bacteria.

  3. Chilling - Some foods must be kept at low temperatures in order to slow the growth of bacteria and maintain freshness.

  4. Cross contamination - Bacteria must be prevented from being transferred from raw food to cooked food through cross contamination.


Who Is Responsible for Implementing Food Safety Management Systems?


Ultimately, it is the food business operators that are responsible for implementing the food safety management systems. All businesses are required to implement and maintain a food safety system that may include inspections, documentation and other procedures to ensure your food is safe for consumers.


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