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Food Safety Guide for Sweet Shops

Meeting food hygiene regulations, food hygiene legislation, staff training and food hazards

Food Safety Guides » Food Safety Guide for Sweet Shops

This comprehensive Sweet Shop Food Safety and Hygiene Guide is designed to ensure the utmost safety and hygiene standards in sweet shops. Whether you are an owner, manager or employee of a sweet shop, maintaining a clean and sanitary environment is crucial to the success of your business and the well-being of your customers.

In today’s fast-paced world, where consumers are increasingly conscious about the quality and safety of the food they consume, it is essential to prioritise food safety and hygiene practices. This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to create a safe and healthy environment in a sweet shop, minimising the risk of foodborne illnesses and maintaining customer satisfaction.

According to statistics, the sugar confectionary industry covers a large variety of products in the UK, each having an enormous impact on financial markets. Spending on confectionery has continued to grow each year with the number of confectionery manufacturing enterprises also increasing continually over the last decade. Sales of chocolate bars in 2021 in the UK reached almost £476 million alone, without taking into account bars that have added extras such as fruit or nuts (with £63 million in revenue by themselves).

The most popular choice of confectionery in the UK in 2021 was filled chocolate bars, followed by solid chocolate bars with boiled sweets taking third place. In total, UK customers spent £12.7 billion on confectionery, ice cream and sugar. As mentioned, the most money is spent on chocolate bars and then boiled sweets. Chewing gum, mints, toffees, fudges and caramel made up a smaller amount, equating to around 9p per person each week.

The consequences of neglecting food safety and hygiene can be severe, ranging from adverse health effects for customers to damage to the business’s reputation. Remember, the success of your sweet shop goes hand in hand with the trust and confidence of your customers. By prioritising food safety and hygiene, you demonstrate your commitment to their well-being and encourage repeat visits.

Food safety and hygiene legislation to follow for sweet shops

As a food and drink business, all sweet shops must follow certain food safety regulations to ensure that their customers are safe when eating and drinking their products. There are several enforceable laws to protect consumers in this regard.

They are:

  • The Food Safety Act 1990 This Act provides a framework for all sweet shops and other food and drink establishments to follow. The Act ensures that sweet shops and other businesses do not put anything in food, remove anything from food, or treat food in ways that would mean it could be damaging to the health of those eating it. It also ensures that sweet shops serve or sell food that is of the substance, nature and quality that customers should expect and that food is labelled, presented and advertised in a way that is not misleading or false.
  • The Food Standards Act 1999 This Act establishes the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the body that oversees food safety laws and legislation in the UK. Its main goal is to protect public health when it comes to food and gives the FSA the power to act in the consumers’ best interests during all stages of food production, processing and supply.
  • The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations:
    The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
    – The Food Hygiene Regulations (Scotland) 2006
    – The Food Hygiene Regulations (Wales) 2006
    – The Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
  • The Food Information Regulations 2014
    – These regulations stipulate that businesses must provide allergen information if a food contains any of the 14 listed allergens.
    – These were amended by the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019 to include Natasha’s Law.
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Natasha’s Law

Natasha’s Law came into force on 1 October 2021. This law is the legacy left following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a baguette from Pret a Manger.

Natasha died after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette that she bought from Pret at Heathrow Airport in July 2016. On her flight, she began to feel ill and suffered a cardiac arrest. The baguette contained sesame baked into the dough which caused her body to go into anaphylactic shock. Despite her father administering two EpiPen injections, Natasha died the same day. Sesame was not listed as an ingredient on the packaging.

Before Natasha’s Law came into force, sweet shops and food establishments did not need to label food with allergens if they were made on the premises. These foods are called prepacked for direct sale, or PPDS. They can be made and packaged at the same place it is sold or offered and placed in the packaging ready for sale. It includes foods from display units or fridges (as is the case with Pret a Manger) as well as other products from behind the counter or sold at temporary and mobile outlets. It’s important to note that this law relates to packaged foods only. If food isn’t packaged, it doesn’t require labelling, but the allergen information must still be readily available to the consumer.

Some examples of PPDS food include:

  • Confectionery which is packaged on-site before a customer orders or selects it.
  • Sweet samples that are freely distributed as sample products, but which were previously packaged on-site.
  • Products that are packaged ready for sale such as packets of sweets.

 

The label must include:

  • The name of the food item.
  • The ingredients list.
  • Any of the 14 allergens required by law, listed and emphasised.

What happens if legislation is not followed?

If a sweet shop does not follow food safety legislation, aside from the illness and harm it could cause to its customers, there are legal consequences too. The local authority may take legal action against the sweet shop. The consequences include fines, closure orders and even imprisonment of individuals responsible for the violations.

Aside from legal action, a sweet shop can also suffer in other ways:

  • Reputational damage – A sweet shop could suffer from negative publicity as a result of any legal action or word of mouth due to breaches in food safety legislation. This can impact the trust that customers have in the sweet shop, which can ultimately harm the bottom line.
  • Loss of customers – As a result of reputational damage or due to a poor food safety rating, customers may avoid a sweet shop. This will lead to reduced profitability which can have devastating financial consequences for a business.
  • Increased scrutiny – If a sweet shop has previously breached food safety legislation, it may be subject to increased scrutiny from the authorities. This can result in additional inspections and audits.
  • Loss of licences – Depending on the severity of the violations, a sweet shop may lose its licence to operate. This is a devastating outcome for a business and can lead to its complete closure.

 

Poor food hygiene cases

In 2018, an Asian sweet shop was given a fine of £37,000 due to poor food hygiene practices. Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) found many breaches across three visits. A franchisee of Ambala, Sandhu Enterprises UK Limited, in Oxford Road, Reading, was found to have poor food safety practices after an investigation into a food poisoning outbreak raised the alarm.

The outbreak was caused by Clostridium perfringens, bacteria normally found in poultry and raw meat. Initially, there was not enough evidence to link the shop to the food poisoning outbreak, but the three visits throughout August and September 2017 revealed extremely poor practices when it came to food safety management. They found that there was no covering of foods deemed high risk and there was no stock rotation system. This is what resulted in a £30,000 fine and over £7,000 in associated court costs.

Staff training on food safety and hygiene for sweet shops

Staff training on food safety and hygiene for sweet shops

Staff training on food hygiene is a legal requirement for all food businesses, including sweet shops. By law, all sweet shops must make sure that staff who handle, prepare or sell food are supervised and trained in food hygiene. This does not mean that every staff member needs to have a food hygiene certificate. However, evidence of food safety training is the best way to show customers and Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) that the sweet shop is putting its customers’ safety first. Having such training also provides evidence that a sweet shop has due diligence should it be investigated for breaches of food safety legislation.

Staff training on food hygiene is of utmost importance in sweet shops to ensure the safe handling, preparation and serving of food. By providing comprehensive training, sweet shop owners and managers can equip their employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain high standards of food safety and hygiene.

Sweet shop staff should receive food hygiene training that is appropriate for their level of responsibility, their tasks and the area where they work.

Here are some key areas to focus on when training staff in food hygiene for sweet shops:

1. Personal Hygiene: Emphasise the importance of personal cleanliness and hygiene practices among staff members. This includes proper handwashing techniques, the use of gloves and appropriate protective clothing and regular cleaning and grooming habits. Encourage staff to report any illness or symptoms that may compromise food safety.

2. Allergen Awareness: Train staff to identify common food allergens and understand the risks associated with cross-contamination. Provide detailed information on the allergens present in the sweet shop’s products and how to effectively communicate allergen information to customers. Teach them how to handle and store allergenic ingredients separately to prevent cross-contact.

3. Food Handling and Storage: Educate staff on safe food handling procedures, including temperature control, avoiding cross-contamination, and proper storage practices. Teach them how to handle and store different ingredients and products, especially those that require refrigeration or have specific storage requirements.

4. Cleaning and Sanitisation: Instruct staff on proper cleaning and sanitisation protocols for utensils, equipment, surfaces and food preparation areas. Explain the importance of using appropriate cleaning agents, sanitisers and cleaning schedules to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Emphasise the importance of regular cleaning and sanitisation practices to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and maintain food safety.

5. Pest Control: Train staff on identifying signs of pests and the importance of effective pest control measures in sweet shops. Teach them how to report any pest sightings promptly and follow established pest control procedures to mitigate risks and maintain hygiene.

6. Food Safety Management Systems: Familiarise staff with the sweet shop’s food safety management system, including HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) principles if applicable. Ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities in implementing and maintaining the system. Provide training on how to complete necessary documentation, record-keeping and monitoring procedures.

7. Ongoing Training and Updates: Food safety practices and regulations can evolve over time. Encourage staff to stay updated on industry standards, attend relevant training sessions and engage in continuous learning. Regularly communicate any changes or updates to food safety policies and procedures to ensure staff members are well-informed.

Remember to provide training materials in a format that is accessible and understandable for all staff members. Utilise visual aids, demonstrations and interactive activities to reinforce key concepts and promote active learning.

By investing in staff training on food hygiene, sweet shop owners and managers create a culture of food safety and hygiene within their establishment. Well-trained staff members become a valuable asset in maintaining a clean, safe and reputable sweet shop that prioritises the well-being of customers.

When it comes to food hygiene training and certification, there are three levels:

  • Level 1 – Level 1 is an introduction to food hygiene practices. This training is typically for those who handle low-risk foods such as foods that are already in packaging or already pre-prepared on-site. This level of certification is useful for waiting staff or front-of-house staff who are not in direct contact with the sweets.
  • Level 2 – Level 2 is a basic food hygiene certificate. This is a good choice of certification for staff who prepare, cook and handle foods. Most sweet shop workers will need Level 2 certification, particularly those who work making or boxing up sweets and other confectionery items.
  • Level 3 – Level 3 is classed as an intermediate food hygiene certificate. This is for those who have significant responsibilities within the sweet shop such as the owner, managers and supervisors as well as those involved in HACCP and food safety management systems.

 

Aside from initial training, it is also important that training is refreshed and updated frequently, especially when new legislation has been introduced such as the example of Natasha’s Law. The frequency of the training will depend on the sweet shop, the type of food and drink handled and the workers’ competency. Most workers will need refresher training around every two years or so.

Food Hazards

Food hazards

Most people have some level of awareness when it comes to food hazards. However, when running a sweet shop, the awareness of the different potential hazards must be well understood. A food hazard, as defined by the FSA, is “something that could make food unsafe or unfit to eat.” Food hazards fit into four different categories: biological, chemical, physical and allergenic.

Biological Hazards

Sweet shops, like any food establishment, can be susceptible to various biological food hazards. Biological food hazards are microorganisms or other living organisms that can cause illness or disease in humans when they are consumed in contaminated food.

The most common biological hazards in food include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.

  • Bacteria – Certain bacteria, such as salmonella, campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E. coli), can cause food poisoning when they are present in contaminated food. Improper handling, inadequate refrigeration or cross-contamination can lead to bacterial growth and subsequent foodborne illnesses.
  • Viruses – Viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food and cause gastrointestinal illness. These viruses can be introduced into food by infected food handlers or contaminated ingredients. They are highly contagious and can cause outbreaks if proper hygiene practices are not followed.
  • Parasites – Whilst uncommon, it is possible for parasites to be found in sweets and confectionery items. Parasitic worms such as roundworms or tapeworms are transmitted through contaminated food and water, so it’s not too big a stretch to think that they could be found in items in a sweet shop, particularly in areas where there is a lot of handling such as in a pick-and-mix section. Other parasites such as protozoa can also be transmitted in this way. Parasitic infections can cause gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Mould and Fungi – Mould and fungi can grow on sweet products with high sugar content and humidity levels. While not all moulds are harmful, some produce toxins called mycotoxins, which can cause health issues if consumed in significant amounts. Sweet shops should regularly inspect their products for any signs of mould growth and discard affected items.

 

Chemical Hazards

Chemical food hazards refer to harmful substances that can contaminate food and cause illness or disease when consumed. Such substances can occur naturally in the environment or be added to food either intentionally or unintentionally.

Some chemical food hazards that might be found in a sweet shop include:

  • Cleaning Chemicals: Sweet shops often use various cleaning agents and sanitisers to maintain hygiene. However, if these chemicals are not used correctly or are not properly rinsed off surfaces and utensils, they can contaminate food and pose a health risk. It is crucial to follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning chemicals, store them safely away from food, and ensure thorough rinsing to prevent chemical residues.
  • Food Additives: Sweet products may contain various food additives such as preservatives, flavour enhancers and colourants. While these additives are considered safe when used within regulatory limits, exceeding these limits or using unauthorised additives can pose health risks. Sweet shops should ensure they source additives from reputable suppliers and strictly adhere to approved usage levels.
  • Pesticides and Contaminants: Sweet shops that handle fresh fruits, nuts or other ingredients need to be aware of potential pesticide residues. Purchasing ingredients from trusted suppliers and implementing proper washing techniques can help minimise pesticide contamination. Additionally, being vigilant about potential contaminants such as heavy metals or chemical residues from packaging materials is important.
  • Food Packaging: The packaging materials used for sweets, such as wrappers and containers, should be food-grade and safe. Poor-quality packaging or packaging materials that contain harmful substances can leach into the sweets, compromising their safety. Sweet shops should source packaging materials from reputable suppliers and ensure compliance with relevant food safety regulations.

 

By being proactive in identifying and managing chemical hazards, sweet shops can ensure the safety of their products and maintain customer confidence. Regular training, monitoring and compliance with relevant regulations are key to mitigating chemical risks and maintaining a high standard of food safety.

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards in sweet shops refer to foreign objects or substances that can inadvertently contaminate food and pose a risk to consumer safety. These hazards can cause physical injury or choking if consumed. It is crucial for sweet shops to implement measures to prevent physical hazards.

Here are some common physical hazards found in sweet shops:

  • Metal, Glass or Plastic Fragments: These can result from equipment breakage, packaging materials or other sources. Broken glass from light fixtures, chipped utensils or plastic shards from damaged containers can inadvertently end up in sweet products if proper precautions are not taken.
  • Stones or Seeds: Some sweet products, such as certain baked goods or fruit-based sweets, may contain stones or seeds. It is essential to ensure these are removed before incorporating the ingredients into the final product. Failure to do so can result in dental injuries or choking hazards.
  • Wood Splinters: Wooden utensils, cutting boards or skewers used in sweet shops can pose a risk if they splinter or break. Regular inspection and replacement of wooden items are necessary to prevent any potential contamination.
  • Plastic Wrap, Packaging or Labels: Packaging materials, plastic wrap or labels that unintentionally get incorporated into the sweet products can present a choking hazard if consumed. Sweet shops should ensure that proper quality control measures are in place to prevent any packaging materials from contaminating the final products.
  • Insects or Foreign Matter: Contamination by insects, hair, fibres or other foreign matter can occur if appropriate preventive measures are not implemented. Sweet shops should maintain a clean and hygienic environment, regularly inspect ingredients and have effective pest control measures in place to minimise the risk of such contaminants.

 

By prioritising the prevention and detection of physical hazards, sweet shops can safeguard consumer safety and maintain a reputation for high-quality products. Regular inspections, training and effective quality control procedures are essential to minimise the risk of physical contamination in sweet shop offerings.

Allergenic Hazards

Allergenic hazards in food are those which can cause an allergic reaction in people with food allergies. Allergens are typically proteins that are food in certain foods, and when someone with an allergy consumes them, their immune system reacts by releasing histamines and other chemicals that can cause mild to severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis which can ultimately lead to death.

Sweet shops need to be particularly cautious about allergenic hazards as they often handle ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Some common allergenic hazards that may be found in sweet shops include:

  • Nuts and Tree Nuts: Peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and other tree nuts are common allergens. Many sweet products, such as chocolates, nougat and nut-based pastries, may contain these allergens. Cross-contact can occur if these products come into contact with non-allergenic items during production, handling or storage.
  • Milk and Dairy Products: Milk and dairy ingredients, such as butter, cream, milk powder and lactose, are allergens for individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. Sweet products like milk chocolates, ice cream or dairy-based fillings can pose allergenic hazards if proper segregation and labelling procedures are not followed.
  • Gluten-containing Ingredients: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. Sweet products that include wheat flour, such as cakes, pastries or cookies, can pose allergenic hazards for individuals with gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease. Contamination can occur if gluten-containing ingredients are used or if there is cross-contact with gluten-containing products.
  • Eggs: Eggs are allergens that can be present in various sweet products, including cakes, custards, meringues and certain confections. Cross-contact can occur if utensils, equipment or surfaces used for egg-containing products are not properly cleaned before being used for non-egg-containing products.
  • Soy: Soy and soy-based ingredients, such as soy lecithin or soy protein, can be found in some sweet products, especially chocolate-based products or fillings. Individuals with soy allergies need to be cautious about consuming these products.
  • Other Allergens: In addition to the major allergens mentioned above, other ingredients such as sesame, sulphites, fish or shellfish may be present in certain sweet products. It is crucial to identify and label these allergens accurately to inform consumers and prevent accidental ingestion.

 

Food safety laws stipulate that certain allergens must be clearly labelled and emphasised on food and drink packaging and that establishments such as sweet shops must have allergy information readily available and accessible to customers on the items they serve. Sweet shops must have proper allergen management protocols in place as well as allergen-free options available.

The 4Cs

Sweets shops should follow the 4Cs of food hygiene to best prevent and avoid food hazards.

The 4Cs are:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Cross-contamination
  • Chilling

 

Cleaning

The Food Standards Agency report that a lack of cleaning thoroughly is one of the most common faults that result in a business such as a sweet shop being prosecuted. Cleaning properly is vital as it prevents harmful allergens and pathogens from spreading or contaminating food. It also discourages pests.

Sweet shops must have thorough cleaning schedules and procedures to ensure that all areas of the establishment are cleaned properly. This includes food storage areas, food preparation areas, serving and eating areas as well as toilet and bathroom areas. Many sweet shops operate a ‘clean as you go’ system whereby workers continually clean up after themselves as well as do a final clean after the establishment has closed for the day.

Cooking

Cooking is a critical step in eliminating harmful bacteria and ensuring the safety of sweet products, if they are cooked products that is. Of course, only a small number of sweets and treats are cooked or baked. Sweet shops should ensure that all ingredients, especially those that require cooking, are thoroughly cooked to an appropriate internal temperature. This kills bacteria and other pathogens that may be present in raw or undercooked ingredients.

Sweet shops should use calibrated thermometers to check the internal temperature of cooked products, ensuring they meet the recommended guidelines. Proper cooking helps to destroy harmful microorganisms and minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Cross Contamination

Many foodborne illnesses occur due to cross-contamination. This is when harmful bacteria or allergens are transferred via utensils, surfaces, and food to food or between people. It is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Cross-contamination can also occur with cleaning chemicals, especially ones that are sprayed into the air and can settle on confectionery, equipment or surfaces. Allergen cross-contamination is known as cross-contact. This is where allergens are unknowingly transferred from products containing allergens to allergen-free products.

Sweet shops must take cross-contamination seriously and have systems in place to prevent it such as:

  • Practising good personal hygiene.
  • Having separate areas for utensils and equipment.
  • Cleaning utensils and equipment thoroughly between uses.
  • Storing food properly.
  • Being very cautious and consistent when it comes to cleaning.
  • Clearly labelling containers and packaging with allergens.
  • Training staff about allergen awareness, cross-contact prevention and appropriate handling of allergenic ingredients.

 

Chilling

Some foods must be stored in refrigerators at certain temperatures before use to be safe to eat. Chilling does not kill any harmful bacteria, but it limits them from growing in unsafe quantities. If food is not chilled properly, it enters something called the ‘danger zone’ which encourages pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi to grow. This increases the risks of food poisoning.

All sweet shops should ensure that food is properly chilled.

This means:

  • Fridges are kept at 5°C or below.
  • Freezer temperatures (if freezers are in use – some sweet shops also sell ice cream or ice lollies) are at least -18° or below.
  • Food in the fridge is stored correctly with raw foods at the bottom.
  • Frozen food should be defrosted in a fridge overnight and by following any instructions found on the packaging.
  • The food storage instructions on packaging should always be followed with use-by dates monitored.
  • The fridge and freezer should regularly be emptied of out-of-date or spoiled foods and cleaned regularly.

Personal hygiene in sweet shops

Personal hygiene is vital in all areas of our lives, but when working in a sweet shop and preparing food and drink for other people is not only essential, but it’s also the law. Regulation 852/2004 stipulates that food handlers must maintain high standards when it comes to personal hygiene.

Personal hygiene is not just about washing your hands. It can include clothing, habits, hair, jewellery, illness and smoking too. If sweet shop employees do not follow good personal hygiene practices, they can contaminate foods with many hazards including biological and physical hazards through direct contact as well as cross-contamination.

Personal hygiene training for all staff should be mandatory and should include, but is not limited to:

  • Washing hands thoroughly before handling and preparing any food or drinks.
  • Washing hands after handling raw ingredients or allergens.
  • Tying long hair back and/or wearing a hairnet or hat.
  • Having clean, short fingernails without nail varnish.
  • No watches or jewellery except for a plain wedding ring.
  • No strong scented toiletries or perfumes which could affect or taint food.
  • Ensuring workers are wearing suitable clothing that is clean and practical. This can include gloves and aprons.
  • No sneezing or coughing near or around food and in food preparation areas.
  • Discouraging behaviours such as chewing gum and touching the face and hair.

 

If sweet shop employees are ill, it compromises the safety of the sweets and confectionery. Sweet shop owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their staff are not ill when handling food. This applies to illnesses such as diarrhoea and vomiting as well as skin infections, sores or cold sores. Blue or other brightly coloured plasters should be worn over any cuts or sores, even if they are not infected.

Sweet shops should also have methods and procedures for reporting illnesses that involve gastrointestinal symptoms as well as hepatitis A infections, wounds, skin infections and sores. If a sweet shop worker has vomiting and/or diarrhoea, they should not work for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped. If they are at work when the symptoms strike, they should leave and return home immediately.

Food allergens in sweet shops

Food allergens in sweet shops 

We’ve already touched on food allergens when discussing legislation, Natasha’s Law and cross-contamination. However, allergens pose such a risk to some people that sweet shop workers must be fully clear on what the risks are as well as what is required from sweet shops when it comes to protecting their customers from the harm that they can cause.

There are 14 allergens that must be declared on the packaging and menus by law.

These are:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley and oats.
  • Crustaceans, such as prawns, crabs and lobsters.
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk
  • Molluscs such as clams, mussels and oysters.
  • Mustard
  • Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts.
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre).

 

In sweet shops, one of the most common allergens is nuts and tree nuts such as peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts as they are commonly found in nougat, chocolates, pralines and other nut-based confectionery. Another common allergen found in sweets and confectionery is milk and dairy products. Of course, milk is a key ingredient in chocolates, fudges, caramels, ice creams and dairy-based fillings. As well as allergens, these also contain lactose which is something that many people are sensitive to. Gluten, soy and eggs can also be found in sweets and confectionery.

Sweet shops also have the added risk of pick-and-mix sweets. This is where customers can select and combine various sweets in their own bag. Understandably, this poses a significant risk for allergy suffers due to the potential for cross-contact. If a customer uses tongs or a scoop to select sweets that contain allergens and then another customer uses the same tongs to choose their sweets and they happen to be allergic, this could lead to a severe and even life-threatening reaction in the person with allergies.

Moreover, proper labelling is crucial when it comes to pick-and-mix to clearly indicate the presence of allergens in each sweet item. However, due to the nature of self-selection and mixing, there is a risk of mislabelling or accidental mixing of sweets with different allergens, leading to potential exposure to allergens that customers may be trying to avoid.

To mitigate these risks, sweet shops should:

1. Clearly label each confectionery item with a complete list of ingredients including potential allergens.
2. Provide information or signage in the pick-and-mix area to educate customers about potential allergens and cross-contamination risks.
3. Ensure proper segregation of sweets containing different allergens to minimise the risks of cross-contact.
4. Regularly clean and sanitise the pick-and-mix area, including utensils and containers to prevent cross-contamination.
5. Train staff to be knowledgeable about allergens, cross-contamination risks, and how to assist customers with allergen-related enquiries.

By taking these precautions, sweet shops can help customers make informed choices and minimise the risks associated with allergens in their confectionery products, including those related to pick-and-mix selections. Sadly, unlike bacteria and other contaminants, allergens cannot be destroyed in the cooking process. As such, sweet shops must be vigilant and careful when handling allergens and take particular care if a customer reports that they are allergic to something. As mentioned above, pre-packed foods for direct sale (PPDS) must now also come with allergy labelling as per Natasha’s Law.

Safely storing food in a sweet shop.

Safely storing food in sweet shops

Properly storing food in sweet shops is essential to maintain its quality, prevent spoilage and ensure food safety.

Here are some key guidelines for safely storing food in sweet shops:

1. Temperature Control: Different sweet products have specific temperature requirements for storage. It is crucial to store perishable items, such as cream-filled pastries or chocolates with delicate fillings, in refrigerated units set to the appropriate temperature (below 5°C). Non-perishable items, like sweets or dry confections, can be stored at room temperature.
2. Stock Rotation: Implement a “first in, first out” (FIFO) system to ensure proper stock rotation. Place newly received products at the back of the storage area and bring forward the older ones. This practice helps prevent spoilage and ensures that products are used within their shelf life.
3. Proper Packaging: Use suitable packaging materials to maintain the quality and freshness of sweet products. For example, chocolates should be stored in airtight containers or wrapped in foil to prevent moisture absorption and maintain flavour.
4. Labelling and Dating: Clearly label all stored food items with the product name, date of receipt and expiration or best-before dates. This information allows staff to easily identify and use products within their recommended timeframes.
5. Storage Separation: Separate different types of sweet products to prevent cross-contamination. Store raw ingredients separately from finished products and keep allergenic ingredients segregated to avoid cross-contact. Use designated storage areas for different product categories, such as a separate shelf for chocolates and a separate area for baked goods.
6. Hygiene and Cleanliness: Ensure that all storage areas, shelves and containers are regularly cleaned and sanitised. Regularly inspect storage areas for any signs of pests or infestations and take immediate action to address them.
7. Proper Airflow: Maintain proper airflow within refrigerators and storage areas to prevent temperature fluctuations and ensure even cooling. Avoid overcrowding the storage units, as it can hinder proper airflow and lead to uneven temperature distribution.
8. Shelving and Organisation: Keep storage areas well-organised with clearly labelled shelves and designated areas for different products. This facilitates easy access, reduces the risk of damage and promotes proper stock rotation.
9. Pest Control: Implement effective pest control measures to prevent infestations. Regularly inspect storage areas and seal any potential entry points for pests. Properly dispose of waste and maintain cleanliness in and around the storage areas. We’ll talk more about this in a later section.
10. Staff Training: Train staff on proper food storage procedures, including temperature control, stock rotation, labelling and hygiene practices. Ensure they are aware of the importance of following guidelines and report any storage-related issues promptly.

By following these guidelines, sweet shops can ensure that their food products are stored safely, maintain their quality and minimise the risk of spoilage or foodborne illnesses. Regular monitoring and adherence to proper storage practices are key to maintaining food safety standards in sweet shops.

Safely serving food in a sweet shop

Safely serving food in a sweet shop

Safely serving food in sweet shops is crucial to ensure the well-being of customers and maintain high standards of hygiene. Here are important guidelines to follow when serving food in sweet shops:

1. Personal Hygiene: All staff members involved in food service should practise good personal hygiene. This includes wearing clean and appropriate clothing, tying back hair and ensuring hands are properly washed and sanitised before handling food.
2. Utensils and Serving Tools: Use clean utensils and serving tools, such as tongs or scoops, to handle and serve sweet products. Avoid using hands directly, except when necessary and appropriate, such as when assembling custom orders or packaging items.
3. Display and Protection: Store and display sweet products in clean and protected environments, such as covered display cases or food-grade containers. This helps prevent contamination from airborne particles, dust and contact with customers or staff.
4. Allergen Awareness: As mentioned previously, be knowledgeable about common allergens present in sweet products and provide accurate information to customers upon enquiry. Clearly label all products with allergen information and consider separate storage and serving options for allergen-free or allergen-friendly items.
5. Prevent Cross-Contamination: Take precautions to prevent cross-contamination during the serving process. Use separate utensils or wash them thoroughly between handling different sweet products, particularly when allergens are involved. Avoid contact between allergenic and non-allergenic items.
6. Portion Control: Ensure proper portion control when serving sweet products. Use designated tools or guidelines to measure and serve consistent portions, ensuring that customers receive the intended quantity and value.
7. Food Handling Practices: Handle food products with care to maintain their quality and minimise the risk of contamination. Avoid touching the edible portions of sweet products with bare hands. Use gloves, tissue paper or suitable food-grade barriers when necessary.
8. Packaging and Presentation: Package sweet products securely and appropriately to maintain their freshness, prevent tampering, and ensure food safety. Use food-grade packaging materials and labels with necessary information (e.g., product name, ingredients, allergen details, date of preparation) and seals or closures to protect the products.
9. Cleaning and Sanitisation: Regularly clean and sanitise serving areas, utensils and surfaces to maintain a hygienic environment. Follow appropriate cleaning schedules and use approved cleaning agents to prevent the growth and spread of bacteria and other contaminants.
10. Staff Training: As mentioned before, train all staff members involved in food service on safe food handling practices, including proper serving techniques, allergen awareness, and hygiene protocols. Provide regular refresher training to ensure ongoing compliance and awareness.

Adhering to these guidelines ensures that sweet shops prioritise customer safety and maintain the integrity of their products.

Waste management in a sweet shop

Waste management in sweet shops

Effective waste management is crucial in sweet shops to minimise environmental impact, maintain cleanliness and adhere to food safety regulations.

Here are some key aspects to consider for waste management in sweet shops:

  • Segregation: Implement a waste segregation system to separate different types of waste. Provide designated bins or containers for recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and glass, as well as separate bins for organic waste and general non-recyclable waste. Clearly label the bins to ensure proper waste disposal by staff and customers.
  • Food Waste Reduction: Minimise food waste by carefully planning sweet quantities, monitoring inventory and optimising production processes. Train staff on appropriate package control to avoid excessive food preparation and encourage them to use ingredients efficiently. Additionally, consider implementing strategies like offering smaller portion sizes or incorporating creative sweet selection options to repurpose leftover confectionery.
  • Recycling: Establish a robust recycling programme to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Provide clearly marked recycling bins for materials like paper, plastic, glass and aluminium. Educate staff and customers about the importance of recycling and ensure that recyclable items are properly cleaned and sorted before disposal, as mentioned above.
  • Proper Disposal of Hazardous Waste: Ensure that hazardous waste, such as used cooking oil, is disposed of safely and in compliance with local regulations. Partner with licensed waste management companies that specialise in handling and recycling hazardous waste. Maintain accurate records of waste disposal to demonstrate regulatory compliance.
  • Efficient Packaging: Opt for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging options whenever possible. Use biodegradable or compostable materials for takeout containers, utensils and packaging. Minimise the use of single-use plastics and encourage customers to bring their reusable containers for takeout orders.
  • Staff Training and Awareness: Train staff on proper waste management procedures, emphasising the importance of waste reduction, segregation and responsible disposal. Promote a culture of sustainability and waste consciousness within the sweet shop, encouraging employees to actively participate in waste reduction initiatives.
  • Continuous Improvement and Monitoring: Regularly evaluate waste management practices and identify areas for improvement. Monitor waste generation, recycling rates and landfill diversion to track progress and identify opportunities for further waste reduction. Engage with staff and customers to gather feedback and ideas for waste management initiatives.

 

By implementing effective waste management practices, sweet shops can minimise their environmental footprint, comply with regulations and contribute to a sustainable food service industry. Additionally, promoting waste reduction and responsible waste disposal can enhance the reputation of the sweet shop and resonate with environmentally conscious customers.

Pest control in sweet shops

Pest control

The last thing anyone wants to read about is a pest infestation at their favourite sweet shop. It’ll certainly put off most customers! Pests are any animal or insect that can contaminate food with pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. If uncontrolled, pests can become an infestation. Aside from pathogen exposure, pests also produce physical hazards such as droppings, feathers, fur and even their whole body (or part of it!).

Pest control is a crucial aspect of maintaining food safety and hygiene in sweet shops. Effective pest management helps prevent contamination of food, protects the health of customers and staff and ensures compliance with health regulations.

Here are some important points to consider when it comes to pest control in sweet shops:

  • Common Pests: Sweet shops can be susceptible to various pests, including rodents, flies, cockroaches, ants and stored product pests. Insects in particular are attracted to sugary substances, making it essential to implement preventive measures to keep them out.
  • Regular Inspections: Conduct regular inspections of the premises to identify any signs of pest activity. Look for droppings, nests, gnaw marks or other evidence of pests. Inspect food storage areas, rubbish disposal areas, and nooks and crannies where pests may hide.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: Keep the sweet shop clean and free of food debris that can attract pests. Regularly clean all surfaces, including countertops, floors and equipment. Pay close attention to areas that are prone to moisture, such as sinks and drains, as they can provide breeding grounds for pests.
  • Proper Food Storage: Store all food items, ingredients and supplies in sealed containers to prevent pests from accessing them. Keep perishable items refrigerated at appropriate temperatures to discourage pest activity. Ensure that storage areas are well-organised and clean to avoid providing hiding places for pests.
  • Waste Management: As discussed above, properly manage and dispose of waste to prevent pest attraction. Use covered bins with tight-fitting lids to prevent pests from accessing garbage. Regularly empty and clean the bins and ensure they are placed away from the main food preparation and dining areas.
  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect the premises for any gaps, cracks or openings that pests can use to enter. Seal these entry points with caulk or other appropriate materials to prevent pests from infiltrating the sweet shop. Pay attention to areas around doors, windows, utility penetrations and pipes.
  • Pest Control Professionals: Consider hiring a licensed pest control company to regularly inspect and treat the premises. Pest control professionals have the expertise to identify potential pest issues and implement targeted control measures. They can also provide advice on preventive measures specific to sweet shops.
  • Employee Education: Train employees on the importance of pest control and their role in maintaining a pest-free environment. Teach them about proper sanitation practices, waste management, and how to identify and report signs of pest activity. Encourage a culture of vigilance and prompt reporting to address any potential pest problems.
  • Documentation and Record-keeping: Maintain records of pest control activities, including inspections, treatments and any corrective actions taken. This documentation helps demonstrate compliance with health regulations and provides a reference for future inspections.

 

By implementing these preventive measures and maintaining a proactive approach to pest control, sweet shops can create a clean and safe environment for food preparation and service. Regular monitoring, proper sanitation and collaboration with pest control professionals are key to effectively preventing and managing pest infestations as well as making sure that Environmental Health Officers are satisfied that food safety and hygiene regulations are met.

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