The defence of due diligence allows someone who is facing legal action to defend themselves by showing that they have taken all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence.
If you are found guilty of a food safety offence the law allows fines of up to £20,000 per offence and up to 6 months imprisonment per offence, so an understanding of, and complying with due dilligence is a very important matter for the caterer and not just another piece of useless legislation, it could be your salvation.
The due diligence defence was the law's way of recognising that food businesses cannot achieve perfection. The law accepts that perfection is something that you can strive for and never achieve, albeit selling food that causes someone to be ill is a criminal offence and the person causing it is personally liable even if it is a limited company.
But due diligence has to be proved, and the burden of proof in court is on the defendant, so how do you prove something without records and this is what a due diligence system is, a series of records that show the food business has done all that it could be expected to do to protect its staff and customers
In real terms that means the business:
1) Needs to be able to demonstrate and define a safe system of manufacturing. Your processes and raw materials need to have established controls and risk assessment to make sure hazards are reduced to acceptable levels.
2) Needs to have to have records and you have to have staff who are trained and competent
3) Is registered with the local area health authority
4) Is insured for all relevant liabilities
5) Has complied with the The Health and Safety at Work Act
6) Has complied with the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO)
7) Has complied with the The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
8) Has complied with the The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994
9) Has complied with the The electricity at work regulations 1989
10) Has complied with the The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
11) Has complied with the The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
12) Has complied with the The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
Its also worth remembering that all liability insurance schemes are warranted that you are conforming to the relevant law, if you are in doubt about that ask yourself what happens if you have a road traffic accident and that it is found that all your tyres are illegal, you not only get prosecuted but your insurance company has every right to walk away as you have voided the policy.
Other pieces of legislation, all of which make hard reading for a small catering business has been compiled into one easy to read folder, the NCASS Due Diligence system which is part of the NCASS membership package.
We have different systems for mobile and static site caterers