Food law and enforcement

Food hygiene legislation


All food businesses need to follow strict food hygiene rules. How they affect you depends on the size and type of your business.

Food premises registration

You must register any premises you use for your food business with your local council. In some cases you must have them approved. Premises that may have to be approved include any used for handling:

  • meat and meat products
  • eggs and egg products
  • milk and dairy products
  • fish and fish products

Register your food premises with your local council.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

All food businesses, except primary producers, are required to have in place food safety procedures based on the HACCP principles. It is an globally recognised and recommended system of food safety management and focuses on finding the 'critical points' in a process where there is a risk of food safety problems or hazards. It also suggests ways of putting steps in place to prevent things going wrong.

The law requires food business operators to produce food that's safe to eat. They must also be able to show and prove how they ensure food safety. However, the procedures can be different depending on the size of your business and its activities.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) publishes guidance to help caterers implement food safety management procedures based on HACCP. Your local council environmental health service can also advise you.

Food hygiene training and supervision

You must ensure that anyone who handles food is properly supervised, instructed and/or trained in food hygiene to a level to match their work activity. Food handlers don't always have to go on formal training courses or get a qualification. They can get the skills they need through on-the-job training, self-study or previous experience.

Microbiological criteria for foodstuffs

Microbiological criteria complement food hygiene legislation and apply to all food businesses involved in the production and handling of food. The regulation is flexible in its approach, in that sampling and testing plans should be based on risk (for example reflecting the size and type of business).

Microbiological criteria can be used by the food business operator to validate and verify their food safety management procedures. Food business operators can also use them when assessing the acceptability of foodstuffs or their manufacturing, handling and distribution processes.

Contact your local council environmental health service if you have any questions about how the regulations apply to your business.