Understanding Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices: What Businesses Need to Know
October 20th, 2023
Last updated: November 24th, 2023
If you run a catering business then a HEPN or Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice could be your worst nightmare. What does this notice mean and how can business owners avoid this scenario in the first place?
Maintaining high standards of hygiene is not just good practice; it’s a legal requirement. Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices (HEPNs) play a role in ensuring that businesses stick to these standards. In this blog post, we will explore what HEPNs are, how businesses deal with them, and, most importantly, how to avoid receiving one so you don’t have to close your kitchen.
What is a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice (HEPN)?
A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice (HEPN) is an official enforcement tool used by local authorities and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK. It is issued to businesses, such as restaurants, food retailers, and food processors, when there is an imminent risk to public health due to poor hygiene or food safety practices on the premises. Essentially, an HEPN is a legal order that requires a business to cease its operations temporarily or indefinitely until the identified hygiene issues are rectified.
HEPNs are typically issued in response to conditions or practices that pose a significant risk to public health, such as:
- Evidence of pests or infestations: If a business is found to have rats, mice, or other vermin on its premises, it can pose a substantial risk to food safety. Pest control is one of the most important considerations for any food-based business.
- Inadequate cleanliness and sanitation: Failure to maintain clean and sanitary conditions in food preparation areas, storage facilities, or dining areas can lead to contamination and foodborne illnesses.
- Inadequate refrigeration and storage: Incorrect storage temperatures, using broken refrigeration units that are unfit for purpose, or other poor practices can lead to bacterial growth and foodborne diseases.
- Poor food handling practices: Mishandling of food, inadequate training of staff, or improper storage and reheating of food can result in health risks.
How Do Businesses Deal with an HEPN?
When a business receives an HEPN, it must take immediate action to address the identified hygiene issues. Here’s what businesses should do:
Step One: Compliance with the order: The business must cease its operations if the notice specifies this and undertake the necessary measures to rectify the hygiene issues outlined in the notice.
Step Two: Contact the local authority: The business should get in touch with the local authority or the FSA to discuss the steps required to achieve compliance. Local authorities often work with businesses to help them meet the necessary standards.
Step Three: Hygiene and safety improvements: The business should undertake the required hygiene and safety improvements promptly and provide evidence of these changes to the local authority.
Step Four: Reinspection: Once the improvements have been made, the local authority or the FSA will conduct a reinspection to ensure that the issues have been resolved and that the business now complies with hygiene and food safety regulations.
Tips to Avoid HEPN Notices
- Regular training: Ensure that your staff receives appropriate training in food safety and hygiene practices.
- Regular inspections: Conduct regular self-audits and inspections to identify and rectify potential hygiene issues before they become major problems.
- Pest control: Implement stringent pest control measures and regularly inspect for signs of infestations.
- Maintain proper sanitation: Keep your premises clean and sanitise all food contact surfaces regularly.
- Refrigeration and storage: Monitor and maintain appropriate commercial refrigeration temperatures and storage conditions for all food items.
- Keep records: Maintain accurate records of your food safety practices, including temperature logs, staff training, and cleaning schedules.
Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices in the UK are a crucial tool for ensuring food safety and public health. Businesses must take them seriously and, ideally, implement proactive measures to prevent them from being issued in the first place. By maintaining high standards of hygiene and food safety, businesses not only comply with the law but also build trust and loyalty among their customers.
Pest control is one of the biggest factors in avoiding HEPN notices. We can work with you to help you put in place a plan to avoid pests in the future as well as providing advice on what you can do to deter pests from your property. Peace of mind when it comes to pest-proofing and control.