What is Safer Food Better Business (SFBB)?

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SFBB is a simple toolkit developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to help small businesses comply with Article 5 of Retained Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004. This legislation requires food businesses to put in place food safety management procedures based on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).

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SFBB can be used by small food businesses in the UK to help them comply with this requirement. By using SFBB, businesses can not only comply with food safety regulations but they can also improve their reputation and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Completing SFBB may seem daunting but it is essential to ensure the safety of customers and the success of a food business. The SFBB pack is designed to simplify the process of putting in place food safety management procedures.

Is SFBB a legal requirement?

The law requires all food businesses to have a documented food safety management system in place. These procedures should be based on the principles of HACCP.

SFBB is designed to make this process simpler for small businesses. As such, it is not a legal requirement to use SFBB but it is a legal requirement to have a documented food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP. Therefore smaller businesses will probably find it easier to adopt SFBB than create food safety management procedures from scratch.

Who is SFBB for?

SFBB is for small businesses. There are SFBB better business packs available in the following formats:

The packs are designed to help small businesses:

  • Comply with food hygiene regulations
  • Demonstrate what they do to make food safely
  • Train their staff
  • Improve their business
  • Protect their businesses reputation
  • Improve their food hygiene rating score

Is SFBB suitable for all catering businesses?

SFBB will be suitable for most small catering businesses such as cafes, restaurants, takeaways, residential care homes and small shops. Some businesses may not need to complete all of the sections of the pack. But they can use the sections that are relevant to their process.

For home bakers the catering pack is likely to be the most appropriate. Although it should be noted that some parts may not be relevant. It is down to the business to read the pack thoroughly and complete the parts that are relevant to their processes.

Some catering businesses may be carrying out processes that are not covered by SFBB. This may include processes such as vacuum packing (which is not covered in detail in SFBB) and sous vide cooking.

Businesses carrying out processes that are not covered by SFBB will require additional procedures. It may be that the procedures can be developed in addition to the SFBB pack or it may be that the business decides to go down the route of having bespoke food safety management procedures developed for their business. In either case, whoever is responsible for developing these procedures must be trained and competent in food safety and HACCP.

For a business where SFBB does not cover their processes, they could consider hiring a competent food safety consultant or using a digital HACCP builder tool such as FoodDocs.

Can you get a better food hygiene rating if you use the SFBB pack?

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To determine a food hygiene rating, an officer will consider three broad areas:

  1. Food hygiene practices (i.e. how hygienically is food handled?) This includes how food is prepared, cooked, reheated, cooled and stored.
  • The physical condition of the premises. This includes cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation, pest control and other facilities
  1. Food safety management/ confidence in management (i.e. how is food safety managed?) This includes the processes, systems and staff training that are in place to ensure that food is kept safe and good food hygiene standards are maintained. The officer will also consider their level of confidence that standards will be maintained in the future.

To achieve a food hygiene rating of 5, a business must perform well in the three areas listed above. It is this third element that the officer will be considering when looking at SFBB.

SFBB is designed to help small businesses meet the legal requirement of having food safety management procedures in place that are based on the principles of HACCP. The officer will be assessing the food safety management procedures in place when determining a food hygiene rating. You may be shocked to know that without documented food safety management procedures in place, a business cannot score a food hygiene rating greater than 1 out of 5!

In my experience, small food businesses that are using the pack correctly will generally achieve a better food hygiene rating. This is on the basis that:

  1. The pack reflects their processes
  2. All the relevant parts of the pack are completed to accurately reflect their processes
  3. The pack is followed in practice (this includes ensuring staff are trained in how to follow it and work safely)
  4. The pack is reviewed regularly and updated following any changes

How does SFBB work?

A business must firstly select the pack that is right for them.

The SFBB pack is divided into two key sections. The first section contains safe methods (cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling, cooking and management). For these safe methods, a business needs to follow the instructions and complete each safe method in a way that reflects what they do/ or will do in their business. These safe methods can also serve as a useful tool for training staff.

The second section contains a diary where a food business should keep their records.

What are the benefits to using SFBB?

There are many benefits to using SFBB. These include:

  • Compliance with food hygiene regulations
  • The ability to demonstrate that you make food safely
  • A way to train your staff in your safe methods
  • Protecting your businesses reputation
  • Improving your businesses food hygiene rating or maintaining a food hygiene rating of 5
  • Improving your business i.e. by reducing food wastage

Are there any drawbacks to using SFBB?

The drawbacks to SFBB include:

  • It may be too complex for your businesses processes
  • It may not be detailed enough for your processes/ it may not adequately cover all of your processes

Where can I get an SFBB pack for my business?

You can download an SFBB pack for free from the Food Standards Agency website or by clicking here.

Alternatively you can buy a printed version of the pack on Amazon or eBay for around £20.

What will the EHO expect to see when looking at my SFBB pack?

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Firstly the EHO will expect it to be available on the premises. Excuses that it is with the accountant or the manager took it home will not suffice. The pack should also look like it is being used. It being hidden away in the corner of a dusty shelf and taking 20 minutes to locate it does not create a good impression. This says to the EHO that it is not a working document.

If the EHO asks to see your SFBB pack or food safety management system do not give them a blank look. Also, make sure your staff are trained to know what it is and where it is located. A blank look when asked does not create a good impression. The EHO needs to have confidence that you are managing food safety.

When the SFBB pack is available the EHO will probably sit down and take a look through it. They will look at each of the safe methods to see if they have been completed. They will probably compare what it says in the pack to what is happening in practice in your kitchen. For example; if in the cross-contamination section you say that you store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge away from cooked food but during the inspection they find raw meat on the top shelf next to cooked food they are not going to have confidence in how you are managing food safety. They may also feel that your staff need further training in food safety.

The EHO will also check that all relevant parts of the pack have been completed. This will include the safe methods completion record, the cleaning schedule and staff training section.

Following this they will look at the diary. They will expect to see that the diary has been completed on each of the days that the business is trading. It is therefore important that your staff are trained in how to complete the diary. This includes how to do the opening and closing checks. It is no good if only one person knows how to do these checks, because what happens when they have a day off? To show that you are managing food safety, the diary must be completed each day once the opening and closing checks have been completed.

I hope it goes without saying, but the checks must actually be done before completing the diary. For example; if one of your opening checks is making sure you have liquid hand soap at the wash hand basins then the EHO isn’t going to impressed if they turn up and there is no hand soap. Especially if your diary shows you have completed the opening checks. This gives the impression that it is just a ‘tick box exercise’.

Do I have to use the SFBB diary?

Your food hygiene checks don’t have to be kept in the SFBB diary to meet the EHO’s requirements. There are digital solutions available that may make it easier for staff to complete daily checks. Digital solutions may also help you or your staff to locate everything quickly for the EHO and without risking losing bits of paper or folders. One example of a digital solution is Leafe App. This offers food hygiene records on your phone.

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