Association of Port Health Authorities

Food Safety

Food safety controls
Food Safety is vitally important. Consumers want to be sure that, wherever it comes from food is safe and wholesome. Standards are set and enforced on a European wide basis. In the UK the responsibility for the implementation of these rules primarily lies with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Local Authorities are responsible for the enforcement.

Food safety inspections are carried out by Port Health Officers and Environmental Health Officers within land based premises, on floating restaurants and on ships and aircraft to verify the effectiveness of these controls.

Powers on ships and aircraft

Food Safety on Ships
The changes to the food safety legislation in 2003 extended the definition of premises in The Food Safety Act 1990 to certain ships and aircraft.  This gave authorised officers the power to enforce food hygiene and specified temperature control requirements, and the power of entry to ships and aircraft to carry out food hygiene inspections. The Food Safety Ships and Aircraft Order 2003 introduced this power.

With the exception of temperature control regulations the requirements are the same for ships and aircraft as they are for fixed restaurants and other craft such as floating restaurants. It is recognised that for ships and aircraft the inspection that is carried out may have a slightly different emphasis than an inspection of a fixed premises, for example when inspecting an aircraft one of the primary considerations would be the origin of food on board and the arrangements for transport and loading.

What are my responsibilities?
As a food business operator you are responsible for producing food safely.

Regulations introduced in January 2006 say that you must be able to show what you do to sell food that is safe to eat and have this written down. For large establishments this will have to be in the form of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan however for smaller establishments a simplified approach can be used such as that used in the Safer Food for Better Business (SFBB) scheme.

Legal requirements
Owners and managers of food businesses are responsible for ensuring that their businesses comply with food safety law. The key laws that food businesses in Great Britain must be aware of are:

1. General food regulations 2004
The Regulations enact many of the provisions of EC Regulation 178/2002, introducing requirements relating to food safety (which changed the definitions contained within the Food Safety Act 1990), presentation of food (with a view to ensuring that consumers are not mislead), traceability to ensure that traceability is managed throughout the food chain drom production, through to processing and distribution. and responsibilities of food business operators, including responsibilities for the withdrawal of food suspected of not being in compliance with food safety requirements.

2. Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Safety Act 1990 (Amendment) Regulations 2004 Under the Food Safety Act 1990, you:

  • must not sell (or keep for sale) food that is unsafe for people to eat
  • must not cause food to be dangerous to health
  • must not sell food that is not what the customer is entitled to expect, in terms of content or quality
  • must not describe or present food in a way that is false or misleading

Further guidance on the General Food Regulations and the Food Safety Act can be found on the FSA website.

3. The food hygiene (England) regulations 2006 provide the framework for the EU Hygiene legislation to be enforced in England. The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 14) Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website. These regulations set out the requirements for the hygienic operation of the food business.

4. The microbiological criteria for foodstuffs Regulation 2006 complements the EU food hygiene legislation. Microbiological criteria in current EC legislation have been revised as part of a risk-based approach to food safety. The microbiological criteria can be used by food businesses to validate and verify their food safety management procedures and when assessing the acceptability of foodstuffs, or their manufacturing, handling and distribution processes.

Note: There are similar regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Port Health Officers/ Environmental health officers will inspect your premises to make sure you are following food hygiene rules. They will offer help and advice on food safety, and can take action if they find that your standards of food hygiene are not satisfactory. In serious cases, action might include closing the premises and/or prosecution.

The Food Standards Agency booklet, Food law inspections and your business, explains the inspection process and your rights of appeal if you are unhappy with the way the inspection is carried out.

Waste disposal
Garbage receptacles, preferably foot operated should be covered at all times and waste should be removed from the galley at least daily and from the vessel or its environs in accordance with the agreed waste management plan. Waste from means of transport operating internationally (outside the EU), is subject to additional control. Please see our International Catering Waste section for more information.

Pest control
Any evidence of rodents or insects should immediately be notified to a senior officer/member of staff and any contaminated or damaged food should be destroyed.


Sources of information
Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Catering Guide - Ships, (2004) Chadwick House Publishing . This publication is now out of of print but can be downloaded.
The Food Standards Agency website and in particular the Safer Food Better Business information is relevant.


The Food Safety (Ships and Aircraft) (England and Scotland) Order 2003
The Food Safety (Ships and Aircraft) (Wales) Order 2003
The Food Safety (Ships and Aircraft) (Northern Ireland) Order 2004

More Information on Food Safety and Hygiene
Key Requirements
Food Hygiene on Fishing Vessels

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