Directive 93/43/EEC introduced the concept of good hygiene practice, in response to a pan‐European increase in the incidence of food poisoning, to foster a preventive approach to food safety. UK legislation reinforces the EU position that food businesses are responsible for the implementation of good hygiene practices. The response of the food industry has been to develop audited standards of hygiene, higher than explicit legal requirements. Small businesses have, however, been slow to adopt industry hygiene standards. A case study of small manufacturers of ready to eat meat products investigated the reasons for this. Businesses were first audited to the EFSIS standard, to compare current practice with recommended best practice. Second, technical managers or owner‐managers were interviewed, to gain an insight into their knowledge of industry standards in particular, and the process of hygiene management in general. The analysis found significant differences in the knowledge of technical managers and owner‐managers, with the latter often unaware of the existence of audited standards. It is argued, therefore, that, in order to increase the implementation of good hygiene practices, further programmes to inform small food businesses about industry standards are required.
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