Food Premises Advice Note

This page is designed to provide a greater understanding of health and safety. To prevent potential confusion between advice on good practice and specific legal requirements, the word 'must' has been been used to highlight legal obligations.

The Law

The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 set out basic hygiene principles for food premises. These principles are elaborated upon the industry specific guides to good hygiene practice. They provide more detailed guidance on complying with the regulations for sectors such as catering, vending, etc. Premises used for food business must be registered with the local authority. New businesses must register at least four weeks before opening.

Layout

Sufficient space to carry out the business hygienically is a prime requirement for all food premises. There should be a thought out work flow from raw material to finished product to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. 

Food rooms must not be use as, or be next to, a sleeping place.

Construction

Floors should be made of a material that is easy to clean but is non-slip. They should be even and in busy kitchens have a slope so that water can drain away to a trapped gully.

It is impossible to recommend one particular flooring for all situations but as a general guide, heavy duty food preparation areas should have ceramic or quarry tiles or a polymer covering, whilst light use areas can have terrazzo, vinyl or thermoplastic tiles. Joints between walls and floors should be coved.

Walls should be smooth, impervious and easy to clean. As with flooring, the final choice of finish will depend on the particular situation. In areas of heavy contamination surfaces that can be frequently and easily washed should be chosen, i.e. glazed wall tiles or impervious wall cladding. Where contamination of the walls is unlikely, washable paint is likely to be sufficient. Splash backs of tiles or wall sheeting should be provided behind sinks, working surfaces, etc.

Walls should be decorated in a light colour and coved at their junctions with both floor and ceiling. Hollow partition walls may harbour pests and should be avoided.

Ceilings should have a continuous surface unbroken by joists or beams whenever possible. They should be smooth and finished in a light colour. Gloss paint should not be used on ceilings as it encourages condensation. 

Ceiling height is important, too low and ventilation problems will be experienced whilst too high can make access and cleaning more difficult. 

Suspended ceilings should be avoided as they provide harbourage for pests.

Doors and windows should be of simple design to minimise horizontal surfaces where dust can accumulate. Finger plates should be fixed to doors to allow easy cleaning.

Windowsills should be sloped to prevent their use as shelves.

If windows have to be opened for ventilation they should be screened against flying insects. Doors opening directly into food preparation areas should be similarly treated. 

All wood should be painted with a light coloured gloss paint to give a shiny finish.

Lifts should have internal surfaces which are easy to clean. Access to the base of the lift shaft is important as dirt and food debris can accumulate here and become a focus for insect or rodent infestation.

Services

Lighting of a good standard is essential to enable cleaning to be carried out thoroughly. Lift fittings should be placed in positions relating to equipment, work surfaces, etc.

Fluorescent lighting is preferred to tungsten lighting as it gives a more evenly distributed light. Fluorescent light tubes should be protected against accidental damage.

Electric wiring should be chased into the wall. All switches should be flush fitting and easy to clean. Ventilation is essential for worker comfort and to reduce the amount of cleaning necessary. Natural ventilation will be adequate in many situations but mechanical means will be needed where a big build up of heat and fumes will otherwise result.

The simplest system is the use of an extract fan. In restaurant kitchens and takeaway premises however, an extract canopy incorporating removable grease filters will be essential.

Drainage of the food premises is a fundamental requirement. Where large quantities of grease are disposed of via the drainage system it may be necessary to install a grease interceptor to prevent a build up of fat in the system. 

Refuse storage in kitchens should be lidded plastic bins or plastic refuse sacks. Foot operated lid sack holders are recommended.

Outside, the refuse storage area should have a concrete or paved base which can be hosed down easily.

Equipment

Sinks must be provided for washing food and equipment. Stainless steel is recommended in all heavy duty locations but domestic type units are permissible elsewhere. All sinks must have a sufficient supply of hot and cold water. 

The number of sinks necessary in a particular food premises depends on its use. However, as a general guide:

  • in a kitchen, one double bowl sink should be provided for washing up and one single bowl unit for food washing. If a dish washing machine is installed, a sink is required for pot washing and another for food preparation
  • in a bar a double bowl sink is necessary but where a glass washing machine is installed a single bowl unit is adequate
  • public houses usually need a sink in the cellar

Tables and worktops should be smooth, with no cracks or joints and be made of a non-absorbent, easy to clean material. Stainless steel is recommended but good quality laminated plastic is also suitable in many locations. Worktops should be provided with an up stand at the rear to reduce soiling of the wall surfaces.

Where possible, working surfaces should be sealed in position or easily movable from cleaning beneath and behind.

Cookers and slicers should be regularly cleaned and serviced. Cookers should be large enough to cook the amount of food being produced so that food does not have to be prepared too far in advance.

Machines like meat slicers and large food mixers are potentially dangerous and should have safety guards and trained staff to use them.

Sanitary Accommodation/Facilities

Sanitary accommodation should be well lit, ventilated and conveniently situated but separated from food areas by an intervening ventilated space. All doors leading from this space should be self-closing.

For details of the numbers of WCs and wash hand basins necessary see our workplace sanitary accommodation and washing facilities advice note.

Outdoor clothing must be accommodated outside the food rooms in lockers and cupboards.

If you would like to obtain further information with regard to the subject of this advice note, or in relation to any aspect of food safety or food hygiene, please email envhealth@ashford.gov.uk.