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How to get legal in the food industry


The food people at NCASS have a handy checklist to get legal in the food business. Follow the link and tick them off.

1. Register with your Local Authority
You must register your business 28 days before you start trading with the Environmental Health Department at the Local Authority closest to where your business will be based, or in the case of mobiles, where it is kept.

Once the registration period is complete you can begin trading and you will be inspected by your Environmental Health Department in the first 3 months of trading to ensure that you are operating safely and legally.

2. Get the right Licenses to Trade
Depending on how and where you intend to trade, you may also require a Street Trading Licence.

Do I need a Trading Licence?

Yes – if you operate on public streets or roadsides
No – on private land or at events or shows (provided the organiser has already received their licence)

3. Register as a Business
Get the right Legal Structure for you and your business.

You need to get your paperwork set up in order to operate legally as a business and there are different options available depending on your situation and circumstances. > Find out more

4. Do a Risk Assessment / HACCP
All food businesses in the European Union must have a Food Safety Risk Assessment based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) principles.

The NCASS Due Diligence System includes elements on Food Safety, Health & Safety, COSSH, Fire Safety and Employment, enabling you to understand and assess the risks associated with running your business, and put plans in place to ensure those risks are minimised. > Find out more here

5. Get Food Hygiene / Food Safety Training
Every staff member working in a catering business must receive training relevant to the job they do. This is to ensure that they know what to do and how to do it. If you’re not sure then check out our Training Area of this site. > Find out more

6. Get the right Insurance
By law all caterers must have Employers Liability Insurance which covers you for the Health & Safety of your employees and contractors. All caterers should also have Public Liability Insurance to cover injuries to the public, and Product Liability in case you give anyone food poisoning. Generally they come as a package, but not all do, so check to ensure yours does! > Find out more here

7. Get a Gas Safety Certificate
All Gas equipment used for catering purposes must be installed, inspected and tested on an annual basis by a Gas Safe engineer — even Street Food traders. Engineers need to be qualified in Mobile Catering & LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas / bottled Gas). They will inspect your set up and issue you a certificate if your equipment is safe and legal to use.

New trailers and equipment should come with safety certification, however if you are working on a gazebo or market stall, you also need to get the safety of your gas ‘rig’ tested. > Find out more

8. Get an Electrical Certificate
Under several pieces of legislation, Employers are required to provide safe premises and safe equipment. It is therefore very sensible to have an Electric Safety Check for the installation of you appliances, followed with 6 or 12 monthly checks.

These can be provided by any NIC / IEC registered electrician 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. > Find out more

9. Operate a Food Safety Management System / Due Diligence System
It is essential that you have a Due Diligence System in place to advise and record all the policies and procedures that you follow to keep your staff and customers safe, including a Daily Recording Diary.

As a caterer, it can be your only line of defence in the unfortunate event of prosecution, so it is essential that your Due Diligence System is relevant to your business. > Find out more here

10. Have Hand Washing Facilities
All food businesses must have separate hand and pot washing facilities to be legally compliant.

Not washing hands is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning, that is why it is a legal requirement for all catering units to have hand washing facilities. Anti Bacterial Gel is not accepted by Environmental Health Officers as an appropriate method of cleaning hands.