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4 Laws Every Caterer Should Know

Thursday, February 21, 2019


No business comes without rules and regulations. Even though a catering business seems to be far simpler than a medical practice or a complicated machine shop, legal compliance is still a looming factor. Since catering shares common practices with foodservice, prepackaged goods, and street food, it’s subject to a wide range of laws that also affect those industries. Be sure that your catering business complies with all legislation.

1. Gluten Free Foods

Catering businesses in the UK must comply with the same gluten free standards that prepackaged food companies are required to follow. Anything labelled as “gluten free” must contain 20 parts per million or less of gluten. This means that technically, things like water and raw apples can be labelled as gluten free because they are naturally gluten free. Labelling counts most on foods that would ordinarily contain gluten, such as bread or pasta. This label is safe for tested prepared dishes or foods that cannot possiblybe contaminated by gluten. The law allows some leeway with a special label, called “very low gluten”. Very low gluten foods can contain anywhere between 20 ppm and 100 ppm of gluten. Most businesses don’t take advantage of this label – in fact, it’s yet to be formally used in the UK. Some of your dishes, like those that contain the reduced gluten wheat starch Codex, may actually be “very low gluten” foods.

2. Compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Principles

Any business that handles food needs to make and abide by a HACCP plan. This plan is used to keep food safe from chemical, biological, and physical hazards. In essence, it prevents contamination and spoiled food. Forming this plan begins with identifying where the critical points are. In a catering business, these points are nearly everywhere.These points should be monitored and risk potential should be limited. In the event that a significant hazard exists at a control point, the hazard must be corrected. Ensure that everyone you hire is aware of your HACCP plan and is trained in their role of maintaining that plan. Keeping a log of control points, checks, and modifications is necessary. This log can be used to prove to any relevant authority (such as an inspector) that you’re abiding by HACCP standards.

3. Remember the 4Cs

The UK’s food hygiene laws revolve around four important principles: cleaning, cooking, chilling, and cross-contamination. These principals are often referred to as the 4Cs. Always store food in the appropriate containers for their locations, whether it be a refrigerator, a freezer, or a shelf. Be sure to use appropriate containers when transporting food from your catering kitchen to its destination. Food needs to be kept at the proper temperature in a container that will prevent contamination.Practicing the 4Cs and transportation protocols will help you successfully pass an inspection. If your hygiene rating is low, the government may force you to close your doors and stop catering. Although inspection rating stickers are only mandatory for display in Northern Ireland and Wales, catering companies in England displaying a high rating are more likely to receive better public opinion than those who do not display their rating.Reading and committing most of the British Hospitality Association’s Catering Guide to your memory. Annexe 2 contains pertinent information about rules and regulations that affect compliance in the catering industry. If you’re unsure of how to become compliant with specific pieces of legislation or regulations, you can always consult a lawyer.Keep in mind that new rules and regulations are always being added. Compliance and the law are both ongoing practices. Keeping abreast will allow you to enact changes that will help you swiftly transition into the regulations imposed by new laws as they arise.

About the Author

Anna Ashmore is a healthy diet and food enthusiast. In her free time, she follows her passion as a freelance writer. Professionally, she works for

Twitter: @AnnaAshmore3

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