Running a Safe Food Business

This section is provided to assist food businesses owners to set up and run a safe food business. The information should be read as guidance only. It remains the responsibility of the Food Business Operator (FBO) to ensure that safe working practices are followed, based on an assessment of the hazards (risks) in the business.

You can find more information about food safety and standards on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website at

Cleanvdirty Kitchen


Key Definitions:

Key Legislation:

  • The Food Safety Act 1990
  • Regulation (EC) No 852 /2004 on the Hygiene of Food Stuffs – Basic Food Hygiene Requirements
  • Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 Food of Animal Origin – Specific Food Hygiene Requirements for certain businesses
  • Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 General Principles of Food Law – General Principles and Definitions
  • The Food  Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
  • The Food Information Regulations 2014 - Allergens


Allergens can kill and also have serious long term health effects. Since 2014 The Food Information Regulations have required businesses to provide accurate allergen information but deaths are still occurring. Failure to get it right can put people’s lives at risk and leave business owners facing serious criminal charges under both food safety and health and safety legislation.

Have a look at these video links to see how damaging allergens can be:

Allergy left TV producer brain damaged - BBC News

Oliver: 'Food allergies changed my life' - Food Standards Agency

Restaurant owner jailed over death of customer - YouTube

WRS receives regular complaints about allergen management. Customers now assume that a FHRS rating is a reassurance you are managing allergens safely. The Food Standards Agency has stated that food businesses cannot get a Level 5 rating if you have not done a full analysis and you and your staff lack awareness of allergen risks.

During visits officers will ask you and your staff about:

  • your knowledge of allergens
  • the systems in place to control any risk
  • staff training  

WRS inspection reports left at the end of a visit now have a section on them which indicates how good your allergen management is of the following:

Shutterstock 1012214317 2 Allergen Icons

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a recipe sheet and menu chart to help you make these checks. Use the link to help you identify the ingredients of all foods on your menus to see if any of the 14 specific allergens are present

WRS has produced an allergen assessment sheet

It is also worth reminding staff that people can also be allergic to other foods not on the list. Make sure your staff are trained to deal with any such requests in same way .


Your members of staff must have awareness of this issue and know what your in house procedures are:

The FSA have a FREE on-line allergen training course.

Written Procedures

You must also write down how you control food allergens in your food safety procedures. You should also use this to train staff. You may find the link below useful for this:

The sheets to download and complete are:

  • cross contamination section- food allergies sheet
  • Management section- managing food allergens

Is your business involved in processing raw ingredients of animal origin (FAO) and supplying another business?  If so, in addition to requirement for general registration, you may also need to be Approved under Regulation (EC) 853/2004.

If you only sell direct to the final consumer then this legislation does not apply.

Examples of premises that need to be approved include 

  • meat product plants
  • meat preparation plants (unless attached to a slaughter house)
  • minced meat processing operations and mechanically separated meat processing plant
  • cold stores
  • dairy product processing
  • fish or shellfish product processing
  • eggs or egg products
  • frogs legs and snails

If you are thinking of running this type of business always consult a Food Safety Officer first. There is a higher standard required in setting up. Failure to apply for Approved status can lead to the business being closed down until an application is processed.

The FBO (Food Business Operator) has  to complete a more detailed application form and provide WRS with a set of documents. These include your HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points), site plan, pest control proposals. Once approved you will be issued with a unique code in a standard format which has to appear on your product packaging. This code is notified to the Food Standards Agency, displayed on their website and traceable worldwide.

Best Practice In the Kitchen:

  • Always check that what is delivered is what was ordered
  • Check for allergens in packaged foods,sauces, etc.  They will be shown in bold type
  • Don’t change or substitute ingredients without checking for allergens
  • Use separate equipment and boards for preparing allergen free meals
  • Always store and label foods separately in closed containers – especially peanuts, nuts, seeds, milk powder and flour – to ensure staff always know which ingredients are in containers and to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Keep dedicated boards and other equipment for preparing allergen free meals, eg. serving spoons, chopping boards, woks
  • Write down recipes and ingredients used
  • Make all staff aware of any changes made to recipes
  • Train chefs to pass on changes in menus/ingredients to serving team
  • Think about hidden allergens in food, eg. celery salt, flour coatings on chips, sesame seeds in breads, casein (milk) on kebabs
  • Make sure allergens are clearly marked on takeaway containers
  • If you are making food for someone with an allergy, make sure work surfaces and equipment have been thoroughly cleaned, wash your hands properly before preparing the food, and be careful that you don’t cook it in oil or on a grill that has already been contaminated with the allergen.
  • Purple boards are used by some businesses for preparation on allergen ingredients.

Best Practice Front of House:

Ask customers to let you know if they have a food allergy. This could be on a sign in a prominent place or on your menus.

Prepare a file or folder containing all allergen information for each dish, so that staff can answer enquiries correctly. Whilst the Food Information Regulations do not currently require you to document this, it is more likely to give you a due diligence defence if something goes wrong. However, Regulation EU 852/2004 Article 5 does require you to have a written food safety management system and how you manage allergens should be part of this system.   


  • It is a much safer system to show written information to a customer than relying on verbal advice which you cannot prove you have given and might be misunderstood by the customer.
  • Record allergy requests on orders passed to the kitchen
  • Train staff to always check – never guess - whenever a customer asks if a food contains a particular ingredient.Staff should be aware of the dangers of giving incorrect advice, and, if no written system is in place, trained to check with the kitchen every time someone asks about an allergen.
  • If you are employing temporary staff at peak times, e.g. Christmas, Easter, then make sure they are also trained.
  • Even if you only serve takeaway food, all the above requirements must still be met.

A basic pre-requisite for safe food is good cleaning and disinfection to make sure there are no harmful bacteria which can multiply and cause illness. For most businesses this will mean writing a Cleaning Schedule detailing what is to be cleaned, how often and what products to use.

There are lots of cleaning chemicals available. Off the shelf supermarket products can be used but if you choose the wrong product or use it incorrectly your cleaning may be ineffective.  

You should always wipe off any visible dirt, clean with hot soapy water and disinfect. The Food Standards Agency now recommend you only use BS EN approved sanitisers 1276 or 137697. You can find current lists of acceptable sanitisers with a Google search of BS EN numbers. This is particularly important if you prepare or produce food using raw meat, especially beef which can be a source of e-coli infection.

Adopt the following good practices

  • A Clean as You Go way of working
  • Use colour coded cloths and equipment  to prevent cross contamination
  • Surfaces and equipment need to be visually clear of grease and dirt for disinfection to work
  • Dismantle complex equipment, for cleaning eg. meat slicers, vac packers
  • Always check dilution levels and contact times on products
  • Use paper towels for final wipe down after sanitisation.
  • If you have dishwasher it should be maintained to run at +80C
  • Extraction systems may need professional deep clean
  • Don’t put dirty boxes on clean working surfaces

Cleaning Cloths

Consider what disposable cloths really mean in your business. Is this only dishcloths? 

The most common cause of poor hygiene swab readings is re-usable cloths which are often used for multiple purposes and  spread germs around the kitchen. It is strongly recommended that paper towels are used for final wipe down with sanitiser.

Cloths such as tea towels, oven cloths, etc. are often reused and how you launder them may need to be part of your cross contamination controls.

Soaking cloths in bleach or disinfectant and then hand washing them may not be an adequate hazard control.

Premises Complaints

WRS receives hundreds of complaints every year about food businesses.  If we receive a complaint about poor food safety practices, poor cleanliness or a pest infestation we will visit your premises. Other complaints may initially be investigated by phone or e-mail. If we establish a complaint is justified, you will be asked to take action to solve the problem. A justified complaint may lead to an immediate full food hygiene inspection and re-rating of your premises and/or formal action.   

We cannot release names of complainants without their permission, but they will be advised of action taken.   WRS is aware that some complaints are mischievous or malicious but this is often only identified on investigation.

Fats, Oils and Greases (FOG) can cause drain and sewer blockages when disposed of down sinks or by pouring into external drains (fatbergs).  Blocked sewers may result in flooding of properties. They also attract vermin such as rats.

Under Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 it is an offence to empty any matter into a drain which is likely to interfere with the free flow of  a public sewer.  If FOG from your premise enters the public sewer and contributes to a blockage, Severn Trent, the enforcing authority for the Water Industry Act, may seek to recover any clearance costs from you.

To prevent sewer flooding and blockages it is important to dispose of FOG responsibly eg. scraping FOG from plates and cooking utensils into suitable containers before washing, or by pouring liquid FOG into suitable containers to cool.

Your business should only use a licensed waste disposal contractor. You should keep records of who makes your collections.

Food businesses  with high levels of FOG should consider installing a grease separator (trap). This particularly applies to businesses in urban areas where old sewer systems are often overloaded and subject to frequent blockages. This can be done when you set up (planners may require this) or you may be asked to install one retrospectively if repeated blockages occur. There are many types of grease trap according to size of business.

WRS Officers can also use The Building Act 1984 to deal with the issue of fat build up.

Flooding incidents have become more common around Worcestershire. If your food business is flooded there could be a serious risk to public health from infection and food contamination. The flood water may be heavily contaminated with sewage, harmful bacteria and other pollutants such as oil/petrol etc.  Flood damage can also give rise to health and safety issues.

Do not prepare any food or reopen the business until the premises have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and necessary repairs done.  Contact WRS for advice on 01905 822799 or  

Where major incidents of flooding occur, local authority officers are likely to visit affected premises to give advice and ensure that appropriate repairs and cleaning are carried out. 

When there is a safety issue with a food that is sold on a national or international scale the Food Standards Agency issue Food Alerts. These are designed to warn the public, food businesses and local enforcing authorities that there is a problem.

Alerts range from microbiological and physical contamination to incorrect allergen labelling. Food is normally withdrawn by the food companies on a voluntary basis and advisory notices issued for display. Occasionally, WRS are asked to check that food businesses have been notified of a problem and give advice about withdrawal of a product.  

If a business is required to formally surrender or dispose of any foods, appropriate documentation will be provided for insurance purposes.

Many consumers assume that the cause of their illness was the last meal they ate. Infection may in fact have occurred several days before the onset of symptoms.  WRS do not always advise businesses of individual reports of illness unless there are a number of linked complaints or other concerns about food hygiene practices. The only way of confirming if the cause of illness is food related is a faecal sample. If there is a suspected outbreak faecal samples may be requested from staff to ensure there is no risk of ongoing infection as some people can be symptomless carriers.

For some illnesses WRS can ask for staff to be ‘excluded’ from work until negative faecal samples are confirmed. Formal swabbing of the premises is also likely to take place and food may be seized for testing.

Thorough cooking kills most food poisoning bacteria. Meat and poultry may be handled many times before cooking and bacteria may be spread around surfaces and onto other foods that may not be cooked before being eaten. When temperature conditions are ideal, some bacteria can double their numbers every 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on the organism, the number of bacteria needed to cause illness in a healthy adult varies from 1,000,000 to as low as 10 (E.coli O157). 

To reduce the risk of food poisoning ensure at all times:

  • Good hand washing practices
  • Adequate storage, cooking and chilling
  • Separation of raw and ready to eat (RTE) foods
  • Staff who have diarrohea and vomiting do not  work until free of symptoms for 48 hours
  • Cuts, sores, etc. are covered with a blue plaster or temporarily exclude individuals from food preparation

E-Coli Infections

The Food Standards Agency have published guidance for food businesses to clarify the steps they need to take to control the risk of food becoming contaminated by E.coli O157- see 

For further information please use the following links:

Food poisoning - onset of symptoms
Food poisoning - glossary of types

Regulation EC 852/2004 Article 5 requires alll food businesses to have a written FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM to demonstrate that the food they produce is safe to eat.  A business that deals in only low risk foods, such as sweets, may not need to do more than keep invoices for traceability; those that deal in high risk foods or processes will require significant documentation to prove that they have adequate procedures in place. You can use any written/computerised system providing it reflects accurately what you do and the end result is safe food.   

Whatever the size of business the system must be based on the principles of HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. The FBO (Food Business Operator) is expected to have an understanding of these principles and how to apply them.

For smaller businesses a model system is available called Safer Food Better Business. Devised by the Food Standards Agency, it is designed for small businesses. The pack contains a series of ‘Safe Methods’ and sections you must complete about how you manage food safety. The pack also contains a daily diary which you must complete each day.   All staff working with food must be trained in your system.

You can download a pack directly from the Food Standards Agency on

Safer Food Better Business is not suitable for catering operations covering several sites, but you may find it useful to use some of its pages or advice in your system.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points:

The major hazards (risks):

MICROBIOLOGICAL - Bacteria, Viruses, Fungus, Spores
CHEMICAL -  Cleaning Products
PHYSICAL -  Packaging, Broken Glass, Wood, Metal, Hair, Fabric, Fingernail, Rodent Droppings

ALLERGENIC - The 14 allergens that are listed in the Food Informatoin Regulations 2014 (see Allergen section)

You need to:

  • Identiy where the hazards are/could occur in your business and cause your food to be unsafe.
  • Decide if controlling or eliminating these hazards at that point is critical to ensuring that the food is safe. This is called a ‘Critical Control Point’,
  • When you have identified the hazards and decided where they may occur and which ones are critical to ensuring the food is safe you must implement a critical control point to reduce or eliminate the risk of the hazard occurring
  • Monitor your controls and what 'corrective action' to take if the control measures are not working. 
  • Reviewing your controls is especially important when you make a change, eg. change a supplier, menu, cooking method, recipe, install new equipment.

You must document your findings by writing them down ie:

  • The hazards you have identified 9inlcuding allergens)
  • Where the hazards are likely to occur
  • Your control measures
  • The control measures that are critical to food safety and where these must be implemented
  • Your methods for monitoring your control measures
  • Your procedures for taking corrective action
  • When you will review your system
  • The records that you will keep as evidence that your systems work

 It is acceptable only to record when something goes wrong. If you choose this option your record should include:

  • What went wrong
  • When it went wrong
  • How it was discovered
  • What you did to solve the problem in the short term
  • What you have done to solve the problem in the long term

In food safety law if you can prove you have done all reasonable to ensure food safety this is called your DUE DILIGENCE DEFENCE. Because it can be difficiult to prove safe practicies without relevant documentation it is recommended you also keep records of deliveries, temperature checks, staff training, pest control reports  etc

Signing off Your Records
The person signing the record must understand what they are signing for. If the FBO is not actively preparing food it is recommended they carry out occasional checks (audits) to ensure their system is being maintained. See check lists:

Check Lists

These are some useful documents that you may find useful:

If totally unacceptable conditions are found which present an imminent risk to public health, eg. poor cleaning, pest infestation, lack of hot water, officers have the power to close the business (or stop a process) immediately using a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice [HEPN].

This has to be displayed on your premises for the public to see. WRS must ratify the Notice through the Magistrates Court within three working days of service. If you re-open your premises before they have been confirmed as safe by an officer you are committing an offence.

Where a HEPN is served further formal legal action, ie. prosecution is almost certain to follow.

In exceptional cases the officer may offer the option of voluntary closure. 

WRS aim to support businesses in producing safe food. Working together has led to over 90% level of compliance in Worcestershire but WRS will not hesitate to take enforcement action against poor performers. Officers have the power to serve Hygiene Improvement Notices [HIN} to ensure legal requirements critical to food safety are met.  

The majority of notices are served in relation to poor compliance with:

  • hand washing facilities
  • documented food safety management system
  • training
  • pest control
  • lack of hot water
  • waste management

For an Improvement Notice you will be given a minimum of 21 days to comply. Notices can be appealed. Failure to comply with a notice is an offence. The law does not allow the period for compliance to be extended.

Food safety officers work to a national Code of Practice. Issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the UK’s official food enforcement authority, this Code can be viewed on  It is subject to regular review. The FSA issue additional guidance if serious issues arise that are not covered in the Code.
The scores  given by officers for your food safety  practices are also included in the Code (Section 5). This helps ensure consistency of ratings throughout England and Wales (Scotland and Ireland have separate arrangements).

Ensuring gas and electrical safety should be part of your health and safety management system. Food Safety Officers now automatically check the condition of your equipment and will expect  gas safety and electrical risks to have been considered and controls put in place.

Protect yourself from the dangers by:

  • Only using a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix or service your gas appliances
  • Checking the engineer is competent to deal with commercial equipment
  • Having your gas appliances regularly serviced and safety checked every year
  • Fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm
  • Checking for warning signs such as lazy yellow flames or black marks or stains around the appliance
  • Knowing the six main signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness

Gas Safe Register:
By law all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe register, which replaced CORGI. The Register is the only official list of Gas Engineers qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. All Gas Safe registered engineers carry a Gas Safe Register ID card. Before any gas work is carried out, always ask to see and check their card. It should have CCN1 written on the right hand side of the card, under Non-Domestic which allows them to inspect Commercial Catering Equipment.

If you are arranging for your equipment to be serviced it is strongly recommended that you contact Gas Safe Customer Services on 0800 408 5500 or check on their website to ensure the engineer you are using is appropriately qualified: . If you suspect anyone to be working illegally you should report them to Gas Safe.
A service should include a thorough clean of the appliance as well as the gas safety checks.

Gas Equipment:

  • Your gas supply pipes should be fixed clear of the floor and not too close to other equipment or you may not be able to adequately clean these areas
  • Suitable flexible cables (yellow or white) should be installed on gas equipment to ensure it can be moved for cleaning
  • If the equipment is heavy it is good practice to have it mounted on lockable castor wheels
  • You should never remove or tape up knobs and switches
  • Most gas ovens and tandoori ovens need an emergency cut off system
  • Electrical equipment, eg. deep fat fryers, should not be sited next to a gas oven due to the risk of ignition of oil. If space is restricted ask your engineer about erecting a suitable barrier to minimise the risk.

Gas Safe Service:
It is good practice to have your gas equipment serviced every year. Essential safety checks which should be done to make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use include checking:

  • the flue or chimney to make sure the products of combustion (fumes) are being safely removed to outside
  • there is an adequate supply of fresh air so the gas burns properly
  • the appliances is burning the gas properly (blue not yellow flame)
  • all safety devices are working properly and shutting the appliances off if a fault occur

Your engineer should always leave you a written report of their visit and recommend the next inspection of your gas appliances.

Electrical Supply and Electrical Appliances:
Kitchens can be wet environments. Water and electrics do not mix. You must ensure that your electrical installation is safe and conforms to current regulations. It is recommended that a qualified electrician carries out an inspection of a business premises electrical systems at least every 5 years.
Only qualified electricians can install, repair, maintain and alter your electrical supply and must be registered with  NICEIC ( , NAPIT ( or ECA contractors (   

The engineer should provide you with a written Electrical periodic installation certificate. Electrical safety certificates use the following codes to indicate how urgent the work is.

  • Code 1- requires urgent attention
  • Code 2- requires improvement
  • Code 3- requires further investigation
  • Code 4- does not comply with British Standard 7671

Certificates with Code 1-2 are not acceptable to WRS officers who will ask you about plans to carry out repairs.

Indications of poor electrical installations:

  • Insufficient number of power sockets leading to the use of multiple adaptors and trailing wires
  • Sockets should not be close to sinks and wire should be protected by waterproof external covers
  • Unprotected surface mounted cable
  • Taped joints, exposed or loose wiring
  • Charring or scorches around power sockets
  • Sparks from light sockets
  • Damaged sockets
  • Frequent fusing of a power or lighting circuit
  • Additional sockets run off an exciting socket or light fitting
  • Lack of earthing to water pipes, sinks and wash hand basins
  • Unlabelled meters.

Staff Training:
Staff should be trained to check that gas and electrical equipment, cables and sockets are working properly, not damaged and to report problems so defects can be remedied.

Ice can harbour bacteria and ice machines must be kept clean and sanitised to prevent mould growth. Make sure ice machines are on your cleaning schedule. Ensure ice cubes are removed from the machine with a scoop not hands. The scoop should be stored in a container and both washed daily.

Food Safety officers visit your business at any reasonable time, ie. during trading hours, including evenings and weekends. The frequency of visits is linked to the hazards of the business and how well they are controlled. If major problems are found officers will visit until compliance improves.

It is normal practice to make unannounced visits for both programmed inspections and complaint investigations. If you are very busy an officer may make arrangements to come back at a more convenient time. Refusing entry to an officer is an offence (obstuction). The owner of the business does not have to be present. Officers will alwasy make a point ot talking to staff to ensure they know how to produce safe food.

The will leave you a written report which you will be asked to sign. The report will make it clear if there is any action you need to take and how urgent this is to ensure you are producing safe food. Items for action will be coded:

             1. Immediate action required

             2. Action within three months (or as agreed with the officer)

             3. Recommendations of good practice

A copy of the report will be scanned by WRS and kept for future reference. Reports can be released on request to the public/media etc. They may be redacted if they contain senstive information and to protect third parties.

Also see our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme for businesses web page.

There is currently free movement of goods throughout the European Union (EU) but foods imported from outside the EU are subject to extra checks (documentation and sometimes testing). Deliveries can be held up by these product checks. Foods can be seized and/or disposed of if found to be contaminated. 

The FSA also issue warnings to local authorities about foods that are contaminated and banned from being imported.

Food Business Operators (FBO) in high risk settings, eg. care homes, nurseries, hotels must consider the potential risks of cross contamination/infection from laundering catering cloths where bedding, towels and other soiled items are present. The Food Standards Agency Safer Food Better Business pack used by many individual premises only deals with laundering of cloths used in your kitchen. The Care Homes supplement refers to dirty laundry coming in to the kitchen, but does not deal with the often found practice of kitchen items being dealt with in potentially contaminated areas.

Potentially hazardous situations which need review and documented controls in your food safety management system include:

  • Training staff in infection control risks
  • Washing machines situated in nappy change areas
  • Washing machines situated in sanitary accommodation
  • Staff taking laundry home
  • Adequate separation of clean and dirty items
  • Children’s bedding and towels washed at weekend when a nursery  is closed, using machine in kitchen 
  • Kitchen cloths washed in  general laundry room
  • Washing machine for all laundry situated in food store room 
  • Laundry done by domestic, care and/or catering staff with movement of personnel between laundry and kitchen areas when transporting the dirty and then clean kitchen laundry  Dedicated bins used or no bins
  • Any further action you need to take if you have an outbreak of illness, especially diarrohea and vomiting, eg. separating kitchen staff from other staff who may be exposed to infection.
  • Staff use of kitchen when main catering team not on site


One of the easiest ways for bacteria to spread is from you hands. Good hand washing practices are essential  to ensure food safety. Hands must be washed thoroughly using hot water and soap:

  • before starting work/entering a food area
  • before touching any food
  • after handling raw meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs or dirty vegetables
  • after handling dirty packaging
  • after using the toilet
  • after coughing, sneezing, touching face or hair
  • after handling rubbish
  • after cleaning

Hand Wash Facilities:
You must have a sufficient number of easily accessible wash hand basins with adequate supplies of hot and cold, or appropriately mixed, running water, soap and hygienic means of drying hands. In some high risk business non-hand contact taps may be required.
The wash hand basin must be properly connected to the drainage system and used for hand washing only.
If the only wash hand basin is in a toilet area it is unlikely to be an appropriate hand wash facility in any business where high risk foods are prepared.
Fabric hand towels are not recommended as their multiple use can allow bacterial growth. Use paper towels or air dryers.

 Good Personal Hygiene:

  • Keep nails short and clean
  • Do not wear nail varnish (gel may be acceptable)
  • Keep hair covered or tie back long hair
  • Cover any open wounds with blue plaster and restrict high risk food preparation activities if necessary
  • Use anti bacterial soap
  • Paper towels or hot air dryers are the safest options for hand drying
  • Keep hand basin clear – sign for hand washing only
  • Do not obstruct access to hand basins
  • Keep hand washing facilities clean
  • Gloves and hand gels are best avoided as they can discourage good hand washing

Pests carry disease and can contaminate foods. To stay pest free, check all food prep and storage areas on a regular basis. Keep your premises clean and tidy inside and out.  Never use open trays of bait in food rooms as they may contaminate food. Pest control contracts are recommended but not a legal requirement. If you have a contract be sure you know the level of service you are paying for. Read and act on all reports provided. In between visits you should still carry out your own checks.

If you do not deal with a pest infestation it can lead to your business being closed (see Imminent Risk and Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices). If you find a problem you must take immediate action to deal with it. This usually means calling in a professional pest controller, disposing of damaged/contaminated food/stock and a deep clean and disinfection of contaminated areas.

Staff must be trained to spot signs of potential infestation and report  signs of droppings, dead bodies, damage to stock, holes in the structure of the building etc. If there is a gap  you can insert the tip of a pen into it then a rodent can probably get through it. 

How to stay pest free:

  • Seal/proof points of entry to the premises eg. holes around pipework through walls, gaps under and around doors, airbricks and ventilators (do not seal these, cover with insect proof mesh).
  • Cover open-ended soil stacks and ventilation pipes with wire guards to prevent access by rodents.
  • Ensure external doors have a close fitting frame and threshold, preferably with metal kick plates. Bristle strips are a useful defence against rodents.
  • Check under and behind fixtures and fittings, shelves and stock. Use a torch for dark corners.
  • Open windows and doors used for ventilation must have fly screens.
  • Clean up spillages, remove refuse from food areas on a regular basis and always at the end of the day.
  • Store open packs of dry goods in lidded plastic or metal containers.
  • Store foods off the floor.
  • Check deliveries for signs of infestation.
  • Rotate stock regularly and always investigate the cause of damage to packaging.
  • Install an electronic fly killer, sited away from positions over open food. Make sure it is regularly cleaned and serviced. Replace tubes when they become pale (best done in the spring months).
  • Keep external areas clean and clear of disused equipment, clutter and weeds which could provide harbourage.
  • Store all food waste in containers with lids and ensure they are not overfull so lid cannot be closed.
  • Never leave packaging material outside unprotected. It makes ideal nesting material for rodents.
  • Make sure drains and waste pipes are properly maintained so they do not provide access to the building.

Rat PestCockroachesPigeonMouse In Kitchen 150X150




A food registration form can be downloaded from WRS Registration Form (pdf) or WRS Registration Form (Word) and returned by post or e-mail. Registration is free.

Regulation EC 852/2004 Article 6 requires all businesses offering food and drink for sale to register with the Local Authority where they are based. It is an offence not to register. This applies to everyone from major manufacturers to individuals working in a domestic setting. It should be done at least 28 days prior to starting trading. There are currently no exemptions. WRS confirms all new registrations and further start up information may also be sent.   

If you change your work activities, eg. a wet sales pub starts producing meals, you move from a home base to a commercial unit, add high risk foods eg.meat products, to the food you offer for sale you must tell us. We will then advise you on any new food safety measures you need to consider and may re-inspect/re-rate your premises.

Food Business Operator
The person signing the registration will be assumed to be the Food Business Operator (FBO) and is taking legal responsibility for ensuring the business complies with legislation. If things go wrong this individual may be held legally liable. If legal action is being considered officers will always check that registration details are correct.

WRS  have powers under Section 16 of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1969 to formally request information on who owns the business. Failure to provide information on ownership is an offence. 

Public Register

The name, address of premises, telephone number and name of FBO have to be kept on a Public Register and provided on request to third parties, including HMRC and other public bodies.


Food Premises Changes of Ownership

Registrations and FHRS ratings are not inherited.  If the business changes hands a new registration is required and the business will be subject to a new inspection and FHRS rating.

The name, address of premises, telephone number and name of FBO have to be kept on a Public Register and provided on request to third parties inlcuding Freedom of Information Act requests.

  • Food hygiene law also applies if you prepare or handle food at home for consumption by members of the public (even if it is free). It is your responsibility to make sure your food does not make people ill, and to register as a food business which may be subject to an inspection.
  • If you offer a catering service and only prepare food at the site where it is to be eaten, then these premises can be registered and your home will not be inspected and you will be covered by that premises registration.
  • How often you are visited will depend on the size of your business and the type of food you prepare. Visits to food businesses run from a private residence are notified at least 24 hours in advance. Very low risk home based businesses, eg. jam and cake makers may be contacted by phone or sent a questionnaire. 
  • Make sure you have a good knowledge of basic food hygiene. It is recommended that you attend a Food Hygiene Course (CIEH Level 2 or equivalent).
  • Take extra care if you provide food for vulnerable groups. These include young children under 5, pregnant women, older people over 65 or any one who is ill or immuno compromised.
  • Consider the food safety issues you need to control to ensure you produce safe food. There is lots of useful Information in the Food Standards Agency Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) pack. Using this pack will provide you with the correct documentation required to run a food business. Free copies are available either by email to or by phoning 0845 6060667.
  • Keep a written record of your recipes.
  • The design and layout of your kitchen will depend on the types and quantity of food you are producing. In the majority of cases the kitchen you have is normally acceptable as long as it is in good repair and provided with suitable facilities. 
  • The number of sinks required will depend upon the nature and size of your business. It is recommended you have a separate sink and accessible wash hand basin.
  • Domestic cookers are acceptable.
  • You must have facilities to store, prepare, cook and cool food safely.
  • Keep the food you prepare and ingredients for your business separate from domestic food. This can be a separate cupboard, separate shelves in fridges, or separate compartments in a freezer.
  • As long as you have enough boards to prepare food separately and safely and they are clearly marked or disinfected between uses then you do not have to purchase coloured chopping boards.  If you do use coloured boards  we recommend. red = raw, blue = fish, green = veg etc.
  • You can reuse jam jars providing they are checked for chips, cracks and properly cleaned and steriliised.  We also recommend you use grease proof (or equivalent)  between the surface of your product and the lid.
  • If you have pets they must be kept out of the kitchen whilst food is being prepared and your working surfaces thoroughly washed and disinfected before preparation begins. Do not allow pets in cars when transporting food.
  • Ideally washing machines and dryers should be located outside food rooms. Where this is not possible NO laundry should be done while food is being prepared.
  • Ensure that any laundry needed for the food business such as overalls, aprons, cloths, tea towels, is washed separately from domestic laundry.
  • Young children and toddlers should be kept out of the kitchen when you prepare food for your business.
  • If you are unwell you should never prepare food, particularly if you have food poisoning or a diarrhoea and sickness illness. You should wait until you have been free of all symptoms for at least 48 hours before preparing food for your business.
  • If attending car boots, markets etc, consider how you will transport and display food safely.



  • Wear suitable, clean, washable, protective clothing when preparing food.
  • Wash your hands frequently but especially after handling raw foods, after using the toilet, touching pets, and gardening.
  • Do not smoke while preparing food.
  • Keep pets out of the kitchen.
  • Store food in fridges at 5C.
  • Store food in freezers at -18C.
  • Store raw food at the bottom of your fridge and cooked food at the top.
  • Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.
  • Do not leave food uncovered or at room temperature for long periods of time.

WRS carries out regular sampling of food related products. The sampling programme changes each year to meet national, regional and local requirements.  Sampling activity includes microbiological and chemical testing of over the counter purchases of  food and food related products, shelf-life testing and visits to premises to carry out surveys, take environmental swabs and samples of food being produced. Sampling programmes have included imported foods, salads, cooked rice, sandwiches, dish cloth/tea towels, cooked meats and pates and bottled water. Officers also carry out sampling of some complaints provided the food item has been properly stored.  Where samples have been taken the business (and any complainant) will be advised of the result.

If not handled and cooked properly, herbs and spice, especially when used with high risk foods, can harbour bacteria which can cause illness. Unopened spices have a storage life of up to three years. Whole spices have a longer life than the more fragile ground spices and herbs. Ideally, herbs and spices should be stored at a temperature no higher than room temperature and protected from humidity. They should not be stored near the stove or any other heat source as heat will reduce their flavour, particularly the capsicums (red pepper, paprika) or spices where volatile oils or characteristic aromas are important. Green herbs, such as parsley flakes and chives are light sensitive and should be protected against direct exposure to sunlight and fluorescent light bulbs. If spices need to be kept for a long time, they can benefit from being stored in the refrigerator. Spices can also be kept in the freezer.

  • Store in airtight containers and close containers quickly after every use
  • Avoid touching the spices with your hands
  • Use only clean, dry measuring utensils
  • Keep open containers away from steaming pots. Cooking steam can cause spices to cake and allow bacteria to multiply
  • Avoid contamination from high risk foods such as meat and fish and splashes from food preparation and cleaning


When selecting a premises for a food business you need to consider whether they are suitable for the type of food you intend to offer now and if you expand in the future. Detailed requirements are in Regulation EC 852/2004, the Food Hygiene England Regulations 2006 and the Food Standards Agency Starting Up guide which you can download from

Most new, purpose built food premises will comply with legislation. If you are thinking of using an older premise, or converting premises that have not been used for food preparation before, consider what work may be needed to ensure compliance. The use of some premises may be restricted by planning consents and associated restrictive conditions (eg. listed building consent). If you are not sure about the status of a building, you should contact the Planning Department/ Development Control service within the relevant local authority in Worcestershire to check if there is any action you need to take.

Ensure that the premises have sufficient space to allow you to produce food safely, avoid cross contamination, enable effective cleaning and promote good housekeeping.

Premises must have adequate natural or mechanical ventilation. This may be as simple as having windows that open (may need fly screens) but in many catering premises and those processing or cooking foods, mechanical ventilation may be required to help remove grease and other waste products from the cooking area.  Costs may be incurred if Planners ask for a formal report by a competent person. If you need to install extraction be aware that the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires you to prevent fumes and noxious odours causing a nuisance to neighbours.

Plan how food will be handled at each stage of your business from the point at which the raw ingredients are delivered and stored, right through to serving your customers.

Your internal and external layout is critical to ensure that you produce food safely. It is often helpful to draw a floor plan so that you can see how each part of the business will fit into the premises. If things don’t fit then it probably isn’t suitable for your needs!

Take into account the following when designing your layout:

  • Surfaces must be smooth, impervious and easy to clean. Durability can be an issue especially in a high volume catering environment.
  • Stainless steel or wall cladding are not legal requirements but will last longer than most other finishes. Tiles can be any colour or size as long as they are cleanable.
  • Floor surfaces must be non slip and easy to clean. Make sure there are no corners than can lift and allow food waste to build up underneath.
  • Where will ingredients be delivered and stored?   
  • If you need a dry store where will it be located?
  • How many refrigerators and freezers do you need? Where will these be best located?
  • Where will the sinks be located for washing food and equipment? In most cases you will require one sink for washing food and one for washing equipment.
  • Where will you install hand wash basins? They must be located to ensure your employees use them. Do you need more than one? It is not acceptable to use other sinks in the kitchen for hand washing or basins associated with toilets.
  • Where will food be prepared? How will you ensure the preparation of raw food is separated from the preparation of ready to eat foods to minimise the risk of cross contamination?
  • What cooking appliances will you need and where would these be best located?
  • Will you require equipment to keep food hot?
  • Is any additional equipment needed, eg. slicing machine, vacuum packer, microwave, blast chiller, dishwasher, etc?  Where will  these be located?
  • Where will employees change into their work clothes? Where will clean work clothes be kept? How will this be separated from food preparation areas?
  • Will you require a laundry area for washing protective clothing and other linen associated with the business?
  • Where will waste be stored?
  • Consider any health and safety risks.

All WRS food safety officers have a Hygiena SystemSure device which uses ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) bioluminescence as a simple, rapid way of monitoring cleanliness.  ATP is the universal energy carrier and is found in all living organisms. The technology has been in use for over 25 years as a method of measuring hygiene standards and the Food Standards Agency are now recommending enforcement authorities use this equipment.  The test is not intended to be a replacement for traditional microbiological tests. It is not a precise measurement of surface contamination but is a sophisticated and sensitive indicator test of hygiene status and potential risk.
The unit of measurement is called a Relative Light Unit (RLU). A swab may be taken on surfaces, equipment or hands to check they are clean. The check is done in less than two minutes. The advantages of the test are:

  • immediate warning of risk
  • enables you to take immediate corrective action  to minimise risk
  • reassurance that your staff are following cleaning instructions
  • evidence of due diligence
  • possible cost savings from optimised cleaning procedures and chemical usage

If good cleaning practices are in place swab readings of 0-10 RLU will be found if you have just completed cleaning. If taken on surfaces in use during working hours a reading of up to 150 -200RLU may be acceptable. Anything higher is likely to lead to a discussion on your cleaning practices. These are not formal samples but if an officer has concerns a swab may be taken and sent to the lab for analysis.  Results from such systems are now being accepted by the courts as evidence in food prosecutions.

High risk foods must be kept above 63*C or at 8*C and below (cooked or uncooked dairy products, meat and meat products,poultry)
Chill food between 3-5*C. Below 3*C may affect quality.
Probe high risk foods and ensure temperature is held above 70*C  for 2 mins or at 75*C for 30 secs.
Keep temperature records as evidence of due diligence.


Danger Thermometer

Bacteria that cause food poisoning will grow in the DANGER ZONE between 5*C and 63*C. Temperatures outside this range reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
Below 5*C, bacteria do not grow or grow very slowly. Bacteria already present will lie dormant until warm conditions return, which is why it is important to ensure cooked food reaches the correct high temperature.  The coldest part of the fridge should be between 0*C and 8*C (32F and 41F).  Use a fridge thermometer to monitor the temperature of your fridge regularly. Temperature dials can be unreliable especially in older equipment.  Be aware that cold fridge display units may not hold the same temperature at all levels so make checks on different shelves. Temperatures may also be affected by display lighting in cabinets especially at the top of units. 

Hot Food
Most bacteria are killed by a temperature of at least 70*C providing this is reached at the centre of the food and is held for a sufficient time. Use a probe thermometer to ensure food is being kept hot (above 63*C) or cold (below 8*C). Always clean the thermometer thoroughly before and after you use it with sanitiser or probe wipes.

High risk foods, such as soups, sauces, gravies, must be kept hot after cooking and before they are served. Ways in which food can be kept hot include:

  • bain marie
  • hot display cabinet
  • hot wheeled trolley
  • insulated boxes

Hot holding temperatures must not drop below 63*C. Lower temperatures provide an ideal environment for any bacteria present to multiply.

Hot food that is for service or on display can be kept below 63*C but for one period only and a maximum of 2 hours.
After 2 hours the food must be either brought back to a temperature of 63*C or hotter, cooled rapidly to a temperature of 8*C or colder, or remain at 63*C or hotter or 8*C or cooler or thrown away

Do Not:
Leave food in a cooker or hot holding unit after the unit has been switched off.  Hot holding units are not designed to cook or reheat food. Food should be thrown away after display or service or cooled as quickly as possible and stored in a refrigerator at or below 8*C.

Food should be cooled rapidly and refrigerated within 90 minutes. Cool it in the coldest part of your kitchen. If the food is still too hot after 90 minutes consider:

  • Reducing amount cooked
  • Using shallow trays  
  • Dividing food into smaller portions for cooling
  • Using a cooling rack to help air circulate
  • Placing containers  in cold water

Food should never be re-heated more than once. Reheating should be to a temperature of 75*C or hotter.

Check your Temperature Probe (Calibration):

  • To check your probe works correctly for cold temperatures insert it into iced water. If the temperature is -1C, 0C or +1C it is working correctly.
  • To check your probe works correctly for hot temperatures insert the temperature probe into boiling water. If the temperature is +99C, +100C, +101C it is working correctly

If these temperatures are not achieved, change the battery and try again. If this is not effective you may need to buy a new probe!

The legal requirement is that employees are supervised and instructed and/or trained according to the work they do. The level of training required will depend on the type of food handling, ie. employees who prepare high-risk food will need more training than those who handle only low risk foods. During a visit an officer will talk to you and your staff about the work you do. This helps determine if you and your employees have a suitable level of food hygiene knowledge and training to ensure that the food you produce is safe to eat. If the answers are not satisfactory then we can require you and/or your employees to undertake suitable training.

Identify Training Needs:
Whilst there is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course this is strongly recommended as it helps reinforce your own food safety messages. WRS does not offer food hygiene training courses but there are plenty of options on line.
Find out what previous food handling knowledge, experience and qualifications each employee has. Decide which employees:

  • require supervision and instruction
  • might benefit from attending a food hygiene training course

Consider whether you have someone experienced enough to deliver training in-house or whether you would prefer to send some of your staff on a formal food hygiene training course. Devise a training plan for employees and record the training they undertake, eg. in Safer Food Better Business.

Formal Training Courses:
When arranging formal training you should ensure that the training and qualification is developed or accredited by an external organisation.

Training certificates of employees who are no longer working in the business should be removed from public display.


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Address for Correspondence only

Worcestershire Regulatory Services
Wyre Forest House
Finepoint Way
DY11 7WF