What is the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ date marks on food?
‘Use by’ dates appear on foods that can go off within a few days e.g. meat products, ready-prepared salads, dairy products and chilled convenience meals.
Do not use any food past this date as it could put your health at risk. It is an offence for shops to sell food past its use by date.
For the use by date to be a valid guide, you must follow the storage instructions carefully.
As a general rule, eat it, cook it, freeze it before the use by date or else throw the food out.
‘Best before’ dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, canned and other foods, which can safely be kept for a long time. When the date is reached it doesn't mean that the food is dangerous, but it may no longer be at its best.
It is not an offence for shops to sell food past its best before date.
Other dates can appear on food such as ‘display until’. These dates are used by shops in stock control and are guides for shop staff not customers.
What should I do if I am planning to open a food business in Lisburn City Council?
It is a legal requirement that all food businesses including market stalls, delivery vehicles and other moveable structures must be registered with the Environmental Health Unit at least 28 days prior to opening.
You register by completing a Food Registration Form and submitting it to the Council offices. Registration is free of charge, and you will be provided with specific guidance regarding your food business.
Other steps you must comply with are:
Structure:The structure and layout of the food premises must comply with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. Please click here to download a guide to these requirements.
Training:Food handlers need to be supervised, instructed, and/or trained in food hygiene matters to a level appropriate to their work activity. Lisburn City Council has a list of local Food Hygiene Training Providers.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points): From 1 January 2006 all food business operators must identify food safety hazards and risks relevant to their business, and put in place procedures to prevent problems.
Under the legal requirements, food businessesare also required to provide simple written evidence of the arrangements, for making sure the food produced and sold to customers is safe.
Further details on HACCP including the Safe Catering - Your Guide to HACCP can be found on http://www.food.gov.uk/northernireland/safetyhygieneni/safecateringni/
If you would like a pack or require further guidance, please contact the Food Team on 028 9250 9250.
Labelling:You will need to consider labelling requirements if you sell food either loose or prepacked. Further guidance is available on the Food Standards page of the website.
After a planned inspection of your food business, the premise is scored to identify the frequency of inspections. The premise is then assigned a risk rating. This rating remains until the next planned inspection, when a further score is given. Please click for further information on the Risk Rating of Premises.
What should I do if I have a food complaint?
If you have bought an item of food that has a foreign matter in it, mould growth, an unusual odour or something in it that you did not expect, the Council’s Environmental Health Unit will investigate your complaint.
Please retain the foreign object, food matter, packaging and proof of purchase for the investigating officer. The item concerned may be sent for analysis to identify the foreign object. The investigating officer will contact the retailer, supplier, manufacturer and the relevant Local Authority in whose area the product was made and/or sold.
It can take several months to complete a food complaint procedure. Any subsequent action taken by the Environmental Health Unit will relate only to food safety issues. If you are seeking compensation you must contact your own solicitor.
What should I do if I think I am suffering from food poisoning?
Food poisoning is caused by bacteria (or germs) in our food, and these may still be alive if food is not cooked properly or is contaminated after cooking. Common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and sometimes fever.
Other illnesses, medicines and excessive alcohol can cause similar symptoms to food poisoning.
Please contact your GP if you suspect you have food poisoning. He/she will arrange for you to submit a faecal or vomit sample, as this is the only way to confirm whether or not you have food poisoning.
If the sample is positive and is confirmed as food poisoning, the Environmental Health Unit will carry out an investigation and will require the following details:
If you work with food, the young or elderly please notify your employer, as you may need to be excluded from work until your GP gives you the all clear.
Provide Environmental Health with any remaining suspect food matter at the time of making a complaint. If you are unable to contact them, place the suspect food in an airtight container and place it in the freezer until contact is made.
Further information on common food poisoning bacteria can be found on http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/
What is Noise?
Noise is unwanted sound and it is very subjective with people reacting to it in different ways.
Noise can annoy us, irritate us, cause stress, affect our sleep and disturb our peace and quiet.
Another may hardly notice what can cause extreme annoyance to one person e.g.
What is involved in a Noise Investigation?
The Council will not take anonymous complaints of noise disturbance, but complainants can be assured that their details are confidential.
The Council’s Environmental Health Unit will try in the first instance to resolve any complaint informally. The alleged noisemaker will be contacted and given advice.
If this approach is unsuccessful the complaint will be formally investigated. During a formal investigation the alleged noisemaker is contacted and notified of the procedure. The complainant will be required to keep noise monitoring record sheets (provided by the Environmental Health Officer) for a minimum period of three weeks. These sheets will show the extent of the problem.
If, on completion of this information, it indicates that a problem may exist, an Officer will attempt to gather independent evidence. This can be done by setting up noise monitoring equipment to record and measure the offending noise and by Officers witnessing the noise when it is happening and measuring it.
If the Officer is satisfied that a statutory noise nuisance exists, a Noise Abatement Notice can be served on the person responsible for making the noise. Failure to adhere to this notice can result in prosecution by the Council.
If legal action is to be taken, the complainant's details must be written on the abatement notice. The complainant must also be willing to appear as a witness in any legal proceedings.
When do I need an Entertainment Licence?
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (NI) Order 1985 requires that any premises providing entertainment of the kind listed below must have an Entertainment Licence.
There are a number of exemptions to the above list of which the major one is music or singing in the course of a religious meeting or service.
How long does an Entertainment Licence last?
A licence will remain in force for up to one year but an occasional licence may be granted for fourteen unspecified days in a year.
How do I apply for an Entertainment Licence?
This must be made in writing on the approved form. It must be accompanied by four copies of current building plans, relevant certificates, a copy of advertisement notice and the appropriate fee (see form for details)
The following applications are available for download:
Are there any specific requirements that must be met?
The Department of the Environment specify terms and conditions within a model document. The following may be specifically addressed on the licence.