• Hygiene
  • 15.11.2021
  • 9 min

Hygiene regulations in the foodservice industry: what you need to know.

At the start, hygiene regulations in the foodservice industry often seem like a tiresome obligation involving a lot of red tape. But once the HACCP concept is in place and the control measures have become routine, the topic can be seen in a new light: hygiene becomes a seal of quality that distinguishes your business and makes it a safe place for its guests. But what are the current hygiene regulations? What do you need to be aware of as a foodservice business? And how do you implement these regulations in your business? You will find the answers on this page.

What you need to know about hygiene as a foodservice business.

1 Why is hygiene so important in the foodservice industry?

Hygiene affects all areas of life and aims to prevent infections, stop the spread of diseases and maintain health. Coronavirus has demonstrated the dangers posed by pathogens and how important protective hygiene measures are. This is especially true for the foodservice industry – wherever food is handled, strict compliance with hygiene standards is essential. This is because food is an ideal breeding ground for microorganisms and can be infected by pathogens on its way from harvest, slaughter or production and reach foodservice tables. It only takes one link in the hygiene chain to be weakened and food can be contaminated with residues and pollutants that are hazardous to health. To protect our health, strict hygiene regulations therefore exist to govern the production, storage, processing and preparation of food.

Three good reasons for hygiene

Hygiene measures protect the health and safety of your guests and staff.
A violation of legal hygiene standards may lead to penalties and can endanger the very existence of your business.
Professional hygiene is viewed positively, creates trust and brings economic benefits.

Cross contamination – the invisible danger

The problem

Foodservice kitchens carriy a special risk because they involve both clean and unclean areas. On the one hand, there is the area for clean work, such as the preparation, cooking, portioning and serving of food. This includes the provision of clean dishes. On the other hand, there is the area for unclean work, such as washing lettuce and vegetables, preparing raw animal parts or washing dishes and disposing of waste. This is where cross-contamination can occur, when pathogenic germs unintentionally find their way from unclean areas back into the clean processing area of the kitchen.

Gastroküche unreiner Bereich | Kreuzkontamination

The solution

Cross-contamination can be prevented if clean and unclean areas are consistently separated. This starts in the kitchen planning phase and must be observed each and every day – by every employee. In the individual processing areas of the kitchen for example:

  • Moving rubbish bins out of the kitchen or ideally using an organic waste disposal system
  • Using different chopping boards and cleaning or disinfecting them thoroughly after use.
  • Processing food that is susceptible to germs in a separate area (e.g. poultry, meat, eggs). Washing your hands thoroughly and cleaning and disinfecting all utensils and work surfaces that have been used.
  • Using non-woven cleaning cloths, washing them out regularly and disinfecting or disposing of them at the end of the day.
  • Using separate sinks and hand basins
Gastroküche reiner Bereich | Kreuzkontamination

2 Your obligations as a foodservice business.

For many years now, strict hygiene regulations have applied to the food sector and therefore, the foodservice industry. The different national laws were harmonised by the European Parliament on 1 January 2006 and replaced by the new Food Hygiene Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 This is supplemented by a number of other regulations: for example, the Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 with specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.

What’s it all about?

The aforementioned laws and regulations contain information on:

  • the storage of food with regard to temperature, humidity and light
  • the structural and technical equipment of business premises (e.g. temperature requirements, cleaning and disinfection facilities, ventilation and extraction facilities)
  • the quality, use, cleaning and storage of equipment and tools that come into contact with foodstuffs
  • staff hygiene, work clothing and employee instructions
  • the handling of food residues and waste

This is what you need to ensure

Anyone involved in food production or processing must ensure good hygiene practices on their premises. That is why as a foodservice business, you have certain obligations. Here are the most important ones.

Hygiene Pflichten Gastronom:in
  • 1. Company hygiene concept

    Every foodservice business must identify the critical work stages for food safety and establish appropriate safety measures. The basis for these preventive measures is the HACCP concept or HACCP system, which you must develop for your business and implement in accordance with the legal requirements.

  • 2. Checks and self-monitoring

    The law stipulates that you as a foodservice business are responsible for ensuring that hygiene regulations are observed in your establishment. The keyword is self-monitoring. It is your responsibility as a business to implement and monitor the necessary hygiene measures.

  • 3. Documenting the measures

    This point always causes uncertainty: There is no obligation on the part of the legislator to document the measures and controls carried out. But, you must present your HACCP concept during a food inspection if requested to do so – in a credible and comprehensible manner. And that works best with the help of proper documentation. We therefore recommend that you record the HACCP concept and all associated measures and controls in writing: including cleaning plans and disinfection plans, test plans, test instructions and test protocols, analysis reports and work instructions, etc.

  • 4. Instructions according to the German Protection against Infection Act

    Instructions regarding infections – both for you as a foodservice business and for kitchen staff. These instructions deal with the topic of infectious diseases – from the symptoms of the disease and preventive measures, to staff hygiene and reporting obligations, to prohibitions on activities and employment.

  • 5. Company-specific hygiene training

    In addition to the instructions on infection control, staff must also be trained on the subject of food hygiene – according to the respective activity and training. The aim is to teach the basic rules for hygienic behaviour in the workplace. It is up to you as a foodservice business to decide what content is to be taught, who is to conduct the training and how it is to be implemented. Fixed components should include the company’s own monitoring system (HACCP concept), personnel hygiene, industrial hygiene and production hygiene.

3 Foodservice and HACCP

As a foodservice business, you are obliged to set up, regularly implement and, if necessary, adapt an HACCP self-checking system and must provide proof of this to the food inspection authority. Don’t worry: this sounds quite complicated at first and a lot of effort, but it’s more straightforward than it seems. We will show you how to create a secure HACCP concept or HACCP system.

In a nutshell
  • What does HACCP mean?
    HACCP is short for “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points”. It is an internationally binding quality management system that deals with the analysis and management of risks.
  • What is the purpose of an HACCP concept?
    The HACCP concept supplements normal basic hygiene in the kitchen and is based on self-monitoring by the business. It will help you prevent food-related illnesses and injuries: Sources of danger are made visible and mitigated through appropriate preventive measures. This ensures that the food at your establishment is safe to eat and that you are fulfilling the legal requirements for food safety and food hygiene.
  • Who needs an HACCP concept?
    All businesses that produce (e.g. manufacture, prepare, process), handle (e.g. fill, pack, store, transport) or market (e.g. offer, sell) food require an HACCP concept for self-monitoring. For example:

    – Cafés, bars and restaurants
    – Cafeterias, canteens and company restaurants
    – Hotels and guesthouses
    – Nursing facilities, hospitals and clinics
    – Bakeries and confectioners
    – Butchers and butcher's shops

    Food production (primary production) businesses are exempt from the HACCP obligation: for example, agriculture, hunting and fishing.
Vorgehensweise | HACCP Konzept Gastronomie

How to: 7 steps to a complete HACCP concept

We will show you how to create a legally compliant HACCP concept for your foodservice business.

To the article: Creating a HACCP concept

4 Important hygiene measures in the foodservice industry

Depending on the size and type of foodservice establishment, different hygiene measures must be taken based on the HACCP concept. The following six components are standard in the foodservice industry.

The six most important components
  • Checking incoming goods
    Checking all delivered or purchased goods for condition, best-before date and temperature. Including documentation of the results.
  • Monitoring temperatures
    Controlling the upper temperature limits for cooling and freezing and the lower temperature limits and times for cooking, keeping warm and heating. Non-compliance with temperatures must be documented.
  • Cleaning and disinfection plan
    Drawing up a plan with the intervals for cleaning and disinfecting the business premises and work equipment: What needs to be cleaned or disinfected, how often, with what and in what way.
  • Pest control
    Regular pest inspection of the premises. Including documentation of the checks and any measures carried out.
  • Personnel training
    Training at least once a year for employees who come into contact with food. Plus documentation of training.
  • Traceability
    Collection of data from all suppliers from which the business purchases food. This is so that the origin can be traced in a worste case scenario.

What does this mean? A wide variety of terms circulate around the topic of “hygiene in the foodservice industry”. We explain the most important ones.

  • Hygienekonzept entwickeln Gastronomie

    Hygiene concept

    The hygiene concept refers to the HACCP concept or HACCP system. It is a quality management system that every foodservice business must create individually for itself. It is based on self-monitoring and ensures that there is no danger to health when processing food. HACCP standards are defined for this and appropriate control procedures and measures are defined.

  • Definition Hygieneplan Gastronomie

    Hygiene plan

    The hygiene plan is part of the company’s hygiene concept. It contains the defined procedures for compliance with hygiene standards, the associated cleaning and disinfection plans and documentation of the measures carried out.

  • Definition Reinigungsplan Desinfektionsplan Gastronomie

    Cleaning plan

    Cleaning and disinfection plans are part of the hygiene plan and are prepared for each individual work area (kitchen, guest room, bar and counter, toilets, etc.). The plan contains a list of all cleaning work to be carried out – i.e. which surfaces have to be cleaned and disinfected, how and with which materials and agents. It often involves a checklist with a control section at the end. Cleaning staff document the work carried out, stating name, date and time.

  • Definition Pandemieplan Gastronomie

    Pandemic plan

    Whether it’s swine flu or coronavirus, a pandemic plan or infection contingency plan helps to maintain the functionality of a foodservice business in the event of a pandemic and to minimise the health risks for employees. As an employer, you are responsible for defining measures to clarify suspected cases and, in the event of a confirmed infection, to identify and inform contacts.

Tipps für hygienisches Spülen in der Gastronomie

Know how: 9 tips for hygienic washing in the foodservice industry

What do you need to know about washing up in foodservice? In this article we show you how to wash hygienically safe and the mistakes you should avoid.

To the article: Hygienic washing

5 Food inspection in the foodservice industry

Inspectors from the official food control authority (“Lebensmittelüberwachung”) or veterinary office visit over half of all businesses once a year without prior notice. It is the “inspection of inspections” and check whether you comply with the regulations on hygiene and disinfection and have taken all the necessary measures to be able to serve safe and healthy food to your guests.

Who do they inspect?

The food monitoring authority primarily inspects establishments where there is an increased risk – for example, if perishable food is handled (meat and fish, eggs, dairy products, etc.). Right at the top of the list are businesses that have received complaints. A suspicion or a complaint is checked without delay.

Wer wird geprüft | Lebensmittelkontrolle Gastronomie

What is inspected?

First and foremost, the premises and the kitchen equipment are inspected, the employees’ work procedures are observed and food samples are taken. Bookkeeping records and documentation of the measures and controls that are part of the HACCP concept are also audited.

Was wird geprüft | Lebensmittelkontrolle Gastronomie

What happens in the event of complaints?

If the complaints are minor, the business owner just receives a briefing and a subsequent follow-up inspection. In the event of serious violations, the business owner receives a fine. If there is an acute health risk to guests or staff, the business may be forced to close and criminal proceedings may be initiated.

Was passiert bei Beanstandungen | Lebensmittelkontrolle Gastronomie

The inspectors pay particular attention to

Attention! Inspection!
  • Receipts
    Are there any discrepancies in the incoming and outgoing invoices for the last 6 months?
  • Hygiene
    Is there incoming goods inspection, compliance with the cold chain, waste disposal and pest control?
  • Competences
    Do your staff know the general hygiene requirements and the regulations specifically applicable to their job?
  • Food
    Are the randomly taken food samples hygienically sound after examination in the laboratory?
  • Complaints
    Were their complaints relating to critical points during the last inspection and have been rectified?
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