Food safety

Guidance for food businesses

The government has published guidance for food businesses about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This is designed to be relevant to any food preparation or service setting where food and drink is sold for consumption at venues or for takeaway or delivery.

The full guidance can be found on the Government website.

Additional guidance is also provided by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

Further information

It is a legal requirement for all food businesses to have in place a certain amount of food safety paperwork, to prove that food is produced safely.

Different businesses will need a different amount of paperwork, depending on the size of the business, and the type of food that is being produced. For example, a small café will need a different amount of paperwork compared to a food factory.

How can I comply with the law?

You must identify steps in the activities of the business that are critical to ensuring food safety. Having identified those steps, you need to ensure that adequate safety procedures are identified, implemented, maintained and reviewed in order to control potential food hazards. These controls may include temperature control, cleaning, avoiding cross contamination, thorough cooking of food and personal hygiene, for example.

To help your business comply with this requirement, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a Safer Food, Better Business (SFBB) pack and diary refills. Printed copies of the packs are no longer available from the FSA but you can download the pack or print your own diary pages from their website. You can also photocopy your own diary pages to make sure you don’t run out.

North Lincolnshire Council operates the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS), which is run by local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

About 1,500 food outlets, such as restaurants, takeaways and pubs are registered with the council and these are inspected regularly by officers from the council’s Food and Safety Team. The officers check food premises to ensure hygiene standards meet legal requirements. When food businesses in North Lincolnshire are inspected by officers they are given one of six ratings. This ranges from zero, at the bottom (which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’) to a top rating of five (‘very good’). The FHRS scheme covers restaurants, cafes, takeaways, hotels, mobile caterers, some shops selling food and all pubs (not just those that serve meals).

For more information go to the FHRS website.

Information for businesses:

To ensure that the scheme is fair to businesses, it has been designed to include a number of safeguards. These are:

A right to an appeal

If you feel your rating is wrong or unfair you should talk to the officer that inspected your food business in the first instance. If you still think the rating is unfair or wrong you can appeal in writing. To appeal, the owner or manager of the business must complete the appeal form and send it to the Food and Safety Team within 21 days (this includes weekends and public holidays) of being told what your rating is.

A right of reply

As the owner or manager of the business you also have a ‘right of reply’. This is different from an appeal. You can complete a right of reply form and send it to the Food and Safety Team to tell the inspecting officer how the business has improved hygiene, or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection. The right of reply will be published online with the business’ hygiene rating.

A re-rating visit request

As the owner or manager of the business you can request a revisit for the purposes of re-rating your business, but only if the improvements to hygiene that the inspecting officer told you about at the last inspection have been made.

The re-visit will be carried out within three months of receipt of your application and payment.

When you submit the form you will be taken to our online payment portal, where you can make payment with a credit/debit card. Once the payment is complete you will return to this form. Complete and send the revisit form to the Food and Safety Team.

Please be aware that your rating could go up, down or remain the same.

There will be a charge of £324.12 for each re-visit carried out at your request.

Consent for early publication of rating

As the owner or manager of a food business you can request that your food hygiene rating is published on the Food Standards Agency website before the appeal period has elapsed.

Complete the early publication of rating request form [PDF, 240Kb] and send to the Food and Safety Team. Once the form has been received and checked the rating will be published on the website

Food businesses must register with their local council under Article 6 of EC Regulation 852/2004. You must tell us about the premises you will run your business from and any vehicles you will use to support this business. This information must reach us 28 days before your business starts operating.

Food businesses that must register include:

  • market stalls and retailers selling food
  • catering businesses (including those run from home)
  • delivery vehicles and mobile premises such as burger vans
  • food warehouses.

There are no specific exemptions from this requirement. If you are unsure if you need to register, we advise that you do so. You need to register if:

  • your business takes place on a regular or frequent basis
  • you use vehicles for your food business in connection with permanent premises, such as a shop or warehouse (you do not need to register each vehicle separately)
  • you are starting a new food business. You must register with the council at least 28 days before opening the business.
  • there is a change of ownership or address. You must register within 28 days of the change.

There is no charge to register a food business but failure to do so is an offence.

You must also inform us if:

  • there has been any significant change in your activities
  • the business closes/stops trading.

The name and address of the business and the type of business will be put onto a register that is open to inspection by the public. All other information is confidential and will not be publicly available.

If you require further information please contact the Food and Safety Team: food.safety@northlincs.gov.uk

Advice and information on starting a food business can found at the Food Standards Agency website.

If you are starting up a new food business or taking on an existing food business why not get yourself off to the best possible start by registering for the Food Safety Business Advice Service.

What happens next?

Once your application is received, we will visit your business to conduct an inspection to ensure the premises meet the standards required by the Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs. During this visit a risk assessment will be made and a risk rating under the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme will be allocated to you, which will determine the frequency of subsequent food safety inspections. Read more about the Scheme.

Please note that we do not arrange inspection visits in advance and will turn up unannounced. We will however, do our best to visit your premises as soon as we can after receiving your registration. If you do not go ahead with your food business proposal your registration will be removed from the register after 6 months from its receipt.

Food safety business advice service leaflet [pdf 8MB]

The Food and Safety Team can provide advice, investigate complaints about unsatisfactory standards of hygiene at food premises, labelling, composition of foods and nature of food purchased within North Lincolnshire.

More information can be found on the how to make a complaint about food webpage.

The Food and Safety Team keeps a public register of food business establishments.

Local councils are required to keep a register, open to inspection by the general public, of food business establishments. The register contains the name, address and nature or type of business.

If you would like to view this register please contact the Food and Safety Team to arrange an appointment. This is a free service, however, there will be a charge for copies of individual entries, lists or a full copy of the register.

Prices exclude VAT

Full register                    £193.00

Individual entry            £10.00

Group of entries            £42.00

The council recognises its responsibility as a “relevant person” under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. As such any person making a complaint to the council, involving their employer, will have their identity protected as part of any subsequent investigation, unless expressed permission is granted to disclose their identity.

Additionally, if you would like further information regarding whistleblowing: list of prescribed people and bodies to enable members of the public to report malpractice to, other than your employer; please visit the Gov.uk website for further information.

The Food and Safety Team ensure the safety of food produced, sold and eaten in North Lincolnshire and protect the public against food borne illnesses.  If you run a food business, it is important that you understand all the laws that apply to you; this not only makes good business sense, but usually means you are not at risk of substantial financial penalties for non-compliance.

We know that Food Safety legislation can be complex and can sometimes feel like a burden, but for general questions, free guidance is available at the Food Standards Agency website.  You can also get other useful information if you are thinking of starting a food business on the business pages of GOV.UK.

If you are starting up a new food business or taking on an existing food business why not get your business off to the best possible start by registering for the Food Safety Business Advice Service. The service can help you to understand the regulatory requirements needed to achieve the best possible rating for your business and achieve compliance with food law.

If you require more comprehensive advice than that provided on the Food Standards Agency website, or if you would like an officer to answer a specific query in regard to your business, we offer a bespoke Food Safety Business Advice Service tailored to the needs of your business.

Register to receive Food Safety Business Advice

To access our bespoke Food Safety Business Advice Service, you will need to register and agree to our terms and conditions.

Your personal data will be treated in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (as amended).

Once registered, you will be able to subscribe to our Food Safety Business Advice Service and may also qualify for 30 minutes of free advice per year.

You must register your new food business with the council by law. There are no specific exemptions from this requirement. There is no charge to register your food business but failure to do so is an offence.

What advice can I get?

Our Food Safety team can offer advice on, but is not limited to:

  • Premises layout, structure, facilities and equipment.
  • Food safety practices and procedures.
  • Food Hygiene Rating Scheme requirements.
  • Food legislation specific to your business.
  • Food safety management procedures and control systems.

How much does it cost?

  • Free advice – Certain businesses qualify for 30 minutes free advice per year; to find out if you are eligible please contact us.
  • Chargeable new business advice – An onsite visit delivered by a qualified officer of the Food Safety team including a report and tailored advice appropriate to your business and an up to date “Safer Food Better Business” pack to help you comply with Food Hygiene Regulations (maximum three hours of Food Safety advice for an up-front fee of £206.27 + VAT).

Free advice is valid for 12 months from the date of registration.

Chargeable new business advice is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

Advice is logged in 15 minute slots whether or not the full 15 minutes is used.

Primary Authority arrangements

A Primary Authority Partnership is bespoke to the needs of your business. If you wish to discuss entering into a Primary Authority arrangement with us, please register and request a bespoke quotation.

Terms and conditions

The service we provide will abide by the North Lincolnshire Council Food Safety Business Advice Service Policy  and its terms and conditions.

We will acknowledge requests for Food Safety Business Advice within three working days.

Following the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, there are no restrictions on shopping hours – apart from Sundays.  All shops can now open without restrictions between Monday and Saturday.

Restrictions on Sunday opening times are now confined to large shops (defined under the Act as those having an internal sales area of over 280 square metres).  The important factor is the floor area definition.  This is the part of the shop within a building that is used for display of goods and customer service.

Large shops must:

  • Specify the six hours of trading on a Sunday.  These must be between the hours of 10am to 6pm.
  • Provide a sign, visible internally and externally, specifying the times of trading.

Large shops must remain closed on Easter Sunday (and on Christmas Day when it falls on a Sunday).

Small shops are not covered by these restrictions and can open freely.  The Sunday Trading Act 1994 also includes specific measures to protect the rights of shop workers who do not wish to work on Sunday.

Apart from the restrictions mentioned above, it is left to individual owners to decide their opening hours depending on customer demand.

For further information contact the Food and Safety team.