Food and drink retailers are subject to significant amounts of legislation relating, for example, to registration of premises, food hygiene, weights and measures, workplace health and safety, and waste disposal.

Professional legal advice should always be taken before making business decisions.

Food business registration

All food retail premises must be registered with the environmental health department of the local authority in the area where they are located at least 28 days before the business begins trading. This includes shop display, preparation and storage areas, and any vehicles used for deliveries or collecting produce from suppliers.


See also: Keeping your food and drink (production) business legal


Go to www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/startingup for a guide to food business registration.

Food hygiene and safety

Food and drink retailers are subject to compulsory food hygiene inspections of their premises and of their food safety management systems.

Under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (in Scotland), most food and drink retailers are given a rating based on the results of these inspections.

In Wales and Northern Ireland it is already a legal requirement for food and drink retailers to display this rating on their premises in a prominent place that is clearly visible to customers. This requirement is likely to be extended to England and Scotland by 2019.

For information about food hygiene rating, go to www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/hygieneratings.

Food and drink retailers must also comply with strict rules regarding the safety, presentation, traceability, labelling, and withdrawal and recall of food produce that they have purchased from their trade suppliers (www.food.gov.uk/enforcement/regulation/foodlaw).

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