legal requirements for food business

Legal Requirements for a Food Business

Every food  business in the UK must adhere to a series of legal requirements in order to trade. Follow our useful checklist in order to ensure that you are operating in accordance with the legal guidelines.

1.Register with your Issuing Authority

It is a legal requirement to register your business with the Issuing Authority which is sometimes called the Environmental Health Department of your local council prior to trading. It is recommended to register at least 28 days before you begin trading.

Your Issuing Authority/Environmental Health Department will normally carry out an inspection of your premises to ensure that you are trading legally and safely within the first three months of trading.

See our guide to registering a food business for details on how to do this.

 2. Register as a Business

Having the the right legal and tax structure for you and your business is important. When setting up your new food business, you will need to decide on a business structure which best suits the needs of your business. This could be :

  • Limited Company
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Partnership
  • Sole Trader

It is imperative that you choose the best structure for your business by visiting. To assist you, you can use this guide from GOV.UK.  Each business structure has advantages and disadvantages and at The Chaplain we recommend you take the time to consider each before you decide.

The decision we made at The Chaplain was to register as a limited company. The main reason for choosing this to benefit from the name protection you get as a limited company. Once you register your company with Companies House, your company name is protected by law. No-one else can use the same name as you, or anything deemed to be too similar. Another reason we chose a limited company is to make succession easier. If a shareholder wishes to retire, sell his shareholding, or dies, it is far easier to transfer ownership of a limited company than a non-registered business structure.

3. Get Food Hygiene / Food Safety Training

All staff members within your food business must receive training appropriate to their position. It goes without saying to run a successful food business you must operate in a safe, legal and effective manner.

There are a plethora of food hygiene and food safety training providers ranging from a cheap online portal with online assessment to classroom based training providers.

At The Chaplain we believe it is imperative that you check with your Issuing Authority/Environmental Health Department before you book a provider to see if the training is sufficient and accepted by the Issuing Authority/Environmental Health Department and you and your staff may have to to take the training again at an added cost to your business.

4. Get Insured

It is a legal requirement for you to have Employers’ Liability Insurance if you employ one or more staff members. Each day without cover can lead to fines of up to £2,500.  Employers’ liability insurance covers you as a food business owner against the cost of compensation claims from employee illness or injury sustained as a result of their work.

At The Chaplain we recommend you also have Public Liability Insurance which protects business owners should customers or members of the public suffer personal injury or damage to their property as the result of your business. Public Liability Insurance covers the cost of legal expenses and compensation claims. If you plan to cater at events then the events organisers will ask to see proof of Public Liability Insurance

5. Gas/Electric Certificate

It is a legal requirement for ALL gas equipment which you use for catering purposes must be installed, inspected and tested annually by a gas safe engineer.

If you are a mobile caterer then the Gas Engineers must to be qualified in Mobile Catering & LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas / bottled Gas). Their task will be to inspect your equipment and issue you with a certificate if your equipment is safe and legal to use.

As an employer you must provide a safe working environment. This includes your business premises and equipment. The Chaplain therefore recommends that you have an Electric Safety Check to verify the safety of all installed appliances. We recommend a periodic inspections is also be carried out every 6 to 12 months in order to ensure continued safety.

Any NIC / IEC registered electrician can provide the certificate as can the PAT (Portable Appliance Test). The electric safety tests determine the safety of your electrical installation, while the PAT testing is concerned with portable appliances. It is best practice to get both done.

6. Have a Risk Assessment / HACCP

As a food businesses based in the European Union, you must have a Food Safety Risk Assessment based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) principles.

7. Implement a Food Safety Management System / Due Diligence System

A Due Diligence System is an essential tool for all food businesses. Having a Due Diligence system in place ensures that you have a record of the policies and procedures to which you must adhere in order to keep your staff and customers safe at all times.In the unfortunate event of prosecution, a Due Diligence System is will be your only line of defence. This makes it essential that your Due Diligence System is relevant to your business.

8. Hand Washing Facilities

It is a legal requirement for your food business to have separate hand and pot washing facilities.

Failing to wash hands regularly is a key cause of cross contamination and food poisoning. Subsequently, it is a legal requirement for all catering units to have appropriate hand washing facilities. Environmental Health Officers do not accept Anti Bacterial Gel as an appropriate method of cleaning hands. Hands must be washed.

Please comment below if you need any advice as we are happy to provide guidance to help you get your food business. If you have found this guide useful, please share on social media.

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1 thought on “Legal Requirements for a Food Business

  1. Thank you for this great article. I found it very useful.

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