How to get a handle on food truck regulations

By Richard Clark on Oct 22, 2021 12:46:20 PM


16 min read
Topics: Food Trucks
Food Truck Regulations/girl in front of food truck hatch

Starting a food truck business is an exciting challenge but getting the show on the road takes planning to ensure you’ve got all bases covered.  On top of deciding your menu, writing a business plan, sourcing finance, purchasing your vehicle and getting it kitted out ready for the road, you have to get your head round the food truck regulations that govern the sector.  

The important thing to remember is that they are there to help, not hinder you, as they will enable you to trade legally and safely.  We are here to help, so rules and regulations won’t become a niggling concern for you when you’re running your business.   

You will be working hard enough when you start a business, so the last thing you need is worry and uncertainty about being prosecuted for infringement of a UK food truck regulation. With a clear understanding of the rules governing food trucks, you can rest assured you are trading legitimately and get on with what you do best, serving delicious food to your customers!  

This blog will take you through the following key areas that are regulated in accordance with food truck UK laws and highlight any licenses you will need: 

 

Fire Safety 

Food Truck Regulations/Fire hydrant by Erik Maclean, Unsplash

The cooking equipment in many food trucks present a potential fire risk, but there are plenty of measures you can take to ensure your own safety and that of your staff.  The Nationwide Caterers Association (“NCASS”) website clearly explains the fire protection equipment guidelines that apply to the catering industry, which you will need to implement before you start trading.   

The below definition sets out the current fire safety regulations that apply to all businesses:  

Fire Risk Assessments are compulsory under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and Fire (Scotland) Regulations 2006 for all companies that employ more than 5 staff (overall throughout all their locations,) and must be in a written format. This should be carried out by a competent person. 

If less than 5 employees, although it is still required, it is not necessary to record it in writing. Following the theme of good practice, and in the event of the person who does have the knowledge not being available when the information is requested by an authorised authority, it is advisable to make a record in simple form, which could consist of one or two pages. 

If less than 5 employees it is good practice to carry out a fire risk assessment on the units that are being operated. 

The Nationwide Caterers Association 

Remember to add any new safety measures that may be required if you make any modifications to your food truck, such as adding a fryer, for example, and update your Fire Risk Assessment accordingly. 

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 

This Act is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational Health & Safety in Great Britain.  The Act sets out the responsibilities of employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees, including the provision and maintenance of safe work systems, safety associated with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances and the provision of health and safety training and supervision for employees.  

The Act also covers the maintenance of a safe working environment and appropriate facilities for employees.  Employers have the duty to prepare a written health and safety policy which should be shared with employees.  

In order to comply with the Act, employers should have the following written documents to demonstrate due diligence.  They should be regularly reviewed if any new safety risks emerge:

  • Health and Safety Risk Assessment
  • Health and Safety Policy Document
  • First Aid & Sickness
  • Other Policy Documents including:
    • Smoking
    • Environmental
    • Drugs & Alcohol
    • Safeguarding Children & Vulnerable Adults
    • Food Allergy & Intolerance
    • Personal Hygiene
    • Glass
    • Gloves
    • Money Handling 

 

Food hygiene and safety legislation  

You need to ensure that you have the right information, training and systems to operate safely and legally. 

  • The Food Safety Act (1990) 

The main piece of legislation that relates to this area is the Food Safety Act (1990) as well as various Regulations and Codes of Practice such as Food Law Code of Practice (2012). 

The essential information that you need to know is: 

    1. All food preparation premises must be registered with the local Environmental Health Office 28 days prior to trading, in the area in which the unit is stored, if mobile, or in the area you pay Council Tax to. 

    2. All persons coming into contact with food must be trained for the job they are doing (the level of training depends on the job) before they are allowed to work in the premises. 

You must put in place, implement and maintain a documented Food Safety/Hygiene Management System based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points). 

The two likely consequences of being found guilty of causing a food poisoning incident are:

1.  A criminal prosecution brought about by the local enforcement team leading to:

    • Fines of up to £20,000 per offense. 
    • Up to 6 months imprisonment.

2.  A civil case brought against you by the affected person, with the following amounts payable:

    • For relatively mild symptoms, £500 - £2,000. 
    • For more serious cases where symptoms last for a year or so, £2,000 to £5,000. 
    • Rare cases leading to virtually permanent loss of enjoyment of life, up to £30,000, possibly more. 

Legal fees will also be payable, and if you are found to not be complying with the law, your insurance company may not cover you, as you will be breaching their policy. 

 

  • Food Hygiene Rating Scheme 

It is your responsibility to comply with food hygiene law and you should always be striving to get a level 5 Food Hygiene Rating Scheme as that is what your customers will want to see.  Food safety management procedures should be based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principles.  

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme covers: 

    • Handling of food 

    • How food is stored 

    • How food is prepared 

    • Cleanliness of facilities 

    • How food safety is managed 

Food Truck Regulations/gloved hands preparing sushi/ Photo by Epicurrence on Unsplash

The government website explains what a food safety officer will inspect to check that a business is following food hygiene law so that the food is safe to eat.    

Hand Washing

The legislation states that:
  • A separate hand washing facility must be provided 

  • It must have hot and cold (or appropriately mixed running water) 

  • Alcohol gels are not acceptable on their own but can be used in addition to a hand washing system 

  • Materials should be available for cleaning hands (i.e. anti-bacterial soap) 

  • Materials should be available for drying hands (i.e. paper towels – not a tea towel) 

 

Allergens 

By law, you must highlight any of the following allergens on labels or menus whenever they're used as ingredients in non--prepacked foods and foods that have been pre-packed for direct sale 

Celery Cereals Containing Gluten Crustaceans
Eggs Fish Lupin
Milk Molluscs Mustard
Nuts Peanuts Sesame Seeds
Soya Sulphur Dioxide  

 

To make allergen information available to customers you must either: 

    • Provide written information, e.g. on your menu, so that customers don’t have to ask;  

    • Sign-post to where written information can be found, or  

    • Sign-post to say that oral information can be obtained from a member of staff. 


Check out the Food Standards Agency website for all the information you need about allergens. 

  • Food Safety Risk Assessment 

Your documentation must include a Food Safety Risk Assessment based on the HACCP principles.  

  • Training 

Ideally, all non-food handlers, if any, will be trained in food hygiene to at least level 1 and all food handlers at least to level 2.  Food business owners should undergo food hygiene training to level 3 as they are responsible for the business’s food hygiene processes and procedures.   

It is a legal requirement for food handlers to be “supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity” although there is not a defined way that you must train your staff.  However, the easiest way to prove to health authorities that your staff are adequately trained is to give them the courses.   

Visit the NCASS website for more information about food hygiene training.  

The Food Standards Agency website has lots of information about how to run your food business safely. 

Insurance and registration with authorities 

Food Truck Regulations/hands on laptop keyboard/ by Christin Hume on Unsplash

  • Public, Product & Employers Liability insurance – This normally comes combined in one package, and if you are not an employer it is still recommended to have Employers Liability Insurance as it covers anyone helping out for the day or delivering goods or services.  

  • Registering as a Business – When you start a new business or take over an existing business you must register your food business with the local authority.  You should do this at least 28 days before opening.  You must also decide on the legal structure for your business, i.e. limited company, limited liability partnership, partnership or sole trader, then register your business with HM Revenue & Customs.  

  • Street Trading Licensing - A food truck licence UK is being demanded by Local Authorities to trade in all sorts of places, including on private land.  According to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, street trading is defined as the selling or exposing or offering for sale of any article (including any living thing) in a street.   

However, there are exceptions which include markets or fairs established by charter or other legislation, so it is important to check with your local authority whether or not a license for a food truck UK is required or there are any food truck parking regulations to comply with before you start trading.   

Gas Safety 

You want to ensure that you and your employees are safe, so make sure you know the dos and don’ts about Gas Safety.  These include: 

  1. Understanding the regulations and your responsibilities. 

  2. Only using equipment that is suitable for commercial catering. 

  3. Making sure all your LPG (Liquid Propane Gas) equipment is CE (Conformité Europëenne) marked, to demonstrate that it complies with all the relevant product supply law. 

  4. Making sure your LPG equipment features flame failure devices.   

  5. Keeping on top of your fire safety and health and safety risk assessments.   

More detail about Gas Safety can be found on the NCASS website 

Electrical Safety 

When using appliances in your food truck, it is your responsibility to implement the following safety measures and, when necessary, replace faulty appliances immediately. 

  • Installation Testing – All electrical installations and equipment should be tested regularly by a qualified person. Any work carried out on electrical systems must not give rise to danger and should be disconnected from the source. 

  • PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) - PAT Tests are required on an annual basis for all portable appliances and six-monthly for hand-held appliances. 

  • Operate your generator correctly and safely – Failure to do so could put you, your employees and the public’s lives in danger.  

Vehicle, Towing and Driver licensing 

This complicated area of law is forever changing, making it difficult to understand.  Currently the law states that if you drive a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of over 3.5 tonnes, it requires a tachograph, so if you don’t have one, your insurance will be invalid.  However, there are exemptions that may apply to some catering vehicles depending on whether or not your vehicle has been converted specifically for use as a catering vehicle and where you are taking your vehicle, e.g. to a local market or car boot sale.   

If you think your vehicle may fall under the criteria for requiring a tachograph, check out the “Vehicle and Towing” page of the NCASS website for information about how to make sure you comply with the law. 

Private Events 

All of the above regulations also apply to running your food truck at private events.  However, if you will be attending an event, such as a wedding reception or charity fundraiser in a school hall, pub or village hall, for example, it would be wise to check that the organisers of the event have arrange for a TEN (Temporary Events Notice) if required.  They may need to arrange for a TEN if they are planning to do any of the following:  

  • Hold a licensable activity at a venue that is not currently licensed; 
  •  Hold or extend activities the existing license does not permit, which could include the operation of your food truck;   
  • Stay open late to sell hot food, for example on New Year’s Eve. 

 

Now take on the challenge!

Although there do appear to be a lot of food truck UK laws and regulations governing the operation of a food truck, a lot of it is common sense, and simply requires you to demonstrate that you are aware of and comply with legislation by putting your safety procedures in writing.  Our links in the article to various sections of the Food Standards Agency website and the NCASS website lead to further details, if you need to explore any of the areas of food truck regulation in more depth.  

If the rules and regulations around running your own food truck business have not put you off and you are still willing to take on the challenge, then good for you!  To help you, our website features several articles associated with starting a food truck.  We recommend checking out article: “The Ultimate Guide To Street Food Trucks” as a good place to start.   

Sources – The Food Standards Agency; The Nationwide Caterers Association;  

 

Richard Clark

Written by Richard Clark

Founder of Raccoon, a graphics company launched in 1992. Still working hard to help businesses and brands connect with their target market!