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Food safety

Advice, information about food safety and Registration of food premises

The Business Compliance Team, which sits within The Legal, Democratic & Regulatory Services Department, has the responsibility for enforcing food safety legislation in food premises. The aim is the protection of public health in relation to food. The Council signed up to the enforcement concordat in 1998 and copies of the enforcement policy are available at the Council offices. This is to ensure that all enforcement decisions are based on the principles of good enforcement.

Food Service Plan Toggle accordion

This is the Council's Food Service Plan.

It explains to you how we protect and promote food safety throughout the District by a combination of measures which include enforcing food safety law, sampling of foods and water and providing food hygiene training for you and your staff.
A copy of the full Community Services Service Plan For Food Law Enforcement 2019/2020 is attached below.

The Food Register Toggle accordion

This list below is current as of January 2016. For information regarding new food businesses please contact Regulatory Services on 01727 819 406. Please be aware that this list does not show any details for home caterers or childminders.

A hard copy of St Albans City and District Council Food Register is available to view at the Council offices.

Registration of food premises Toggle accordion

It is a legal requirement for food premises to register with their local authority.

Businesses that need to register include:

  • restaurants

  • cafes

  • takeaways

  • retailers selling food items (including drinks and confectionary)

  • home caterers and cake makers

If you operate your business within the St Albans district you must register with us 28 days before you start any food operations. It is free to register your business and registration cannot be refused.

Fines and penalties Toggle accordion

You may be fined, imprisoned for up to 2 years or both if you run a food business without registering.

If you are already trading and have not registered you need to do so as soon as possible.

If you make, prepare or handle food that comes from animals, for example meat or dairy products, other than for direct sale to the consumer, your premises may need to be approved by the council before you can undertake the activity.

Further helpful information on starting up a new food business is available from the Food Standards Agency website

When we receive your registration form the information will be logged onto our system and an initial inspection will be allocated to an officer.  Once you have started trading an inspection will be carried out.

Food Hygiene Inspections Toggle accordion

Officers will visit your premises to check if your business is complying with food law and producing food that is safe to eat.

Officers have the right to enter and inspect your premises at any reasonable time. Authorised officers will usually arrive without making an appointment, officers will carry photographic identification which you should check.

Officers can take ‘enforcement action’ to protect the public. This can include:

  • seizing foods suspected to be unfit for human consumption
  • writing you a letter following an inspection or outlining non-compliances and asking you to correct these
  • serving a formal legal notice that sets out certain things you must do, or forbidding you from using certain processes, premises or equipment
  • recommending a prosecution in serious cases

Officers will allow you enough time to make changes unless there is an immediate risk to public health.  You can appeal if you do not agree with the actions they have taken.

What We Will Expect To See At Your Food Hygiene Inspection Toggle accordion

To help you to comply with the law and prepare for your inspection we have provided below some information and links to websites that we hope you will find useful.

You must be able to demonstrate good structural and operational hygiene as well as an effective food safety management system.

A: Structural & Operational Hygiene:

These are often known as the hygiene pre-requisites and are the foundation for good food safety. They include:

  • Construction of the premises (this will depend on the type of food business) 

  • Layout of the premises including

    • zoning to prevent cross contamination

    • toilets must not open directly into food rooms 

  • Maintenance (of the premises and equipment)

  • Pest control

  • Cleaning

  • Disinfection

    • When the same non-food contact surfaces such as worktops, sinks etc are used at different times to prepare raw and ready to eat foods, they must be cleaned and disinfected between uses.  Chemical disinfectants used in these areas need to comply with BS EN standards 1276 and/or 13697 or equivalent.  You should check the manufacturer’s information on the product that you select to see if it complies with this standard.

    • It is also very important to ensure the correct dilution (you may find it easier to buy pre-diluted / ready to use products to avoid confusion) and contact times for the product that you select.

  • Waste management (including refuse and waste oil) 

  • Water quality 

  • Purchase control (buying safe food from reputable suppliers) 

  • Preventing cross contamination

    • The Food Standards Agency have produced the following advice See this link

  • Maintaining the cold chain (fridges and freezers) 

  • Personal hygiene and staff health 

    • Separate handwashing facilities must be provided

  • Training

    • You must make sure that have staff who handle or prepare food have adequate training. This can range from issuing simple guidance on food safety and personal hygiene to new members of staff to more formal training.

    • Details of food hygiene training courses run at St Albans City and District Council please see our food hygiene training page

  • Allergy awareness

B: Documented Food Safety Management System or HACCP

All ‘food safety management procedures’ follow the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). HACCP is a system that helps you look at how to handle food and introduce procedures to make sure the food produced is safe to eat.

You must also:

  • keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures
  • review your procedures if you change what you produce or how you work

The procedures can be applied flexibly for different types and sizes of food businesses. Your records must include any procedures in place to make sure food is safe to eat.

To help businesses, the Food Standards Agency has developed ‘off the shelf’ style food safety management systems designed mainly for smaller catering and retail businesses. Specialist packs have been developed for:

  • Caterers  

  • Retailers  

  • Indian cuisine  

  • Chinese cuisine in English  

  • Chinese cuisine in Cantonese 

  • Childminders

  • Residential care homes  

Known as Safer Food, Better Business, packs and diaries can be downloaded for free and printed from the Food Standards Agency website at

It is also possible to buy pre-printed, bound Safer Food Better Business packs and diaries from online sellers, which you can find using an online search.

Once obtained your Safer Food, Better Business pack will need to be completed.

Larger businesses may wish to use MyHACCP which is aimed at small food manufacturing businesses in the UK.  MyHACCP is a free web tool that will guide you through the process of developing a food safety management system based on the HACCP principles.

The following high risk activities may need to develop their own specific documented food safety management systems.

  • butchers’ produce cooked meats,

  • sushi, raw

  • fresh fruit juice production

  • caterers with more complex menus

  • vacuum packing

  • sous vide

  • less than thoroughly cooked meats

In these circumstances we recommend that you obtain the assistance of a competent food safety consultant if you do not have the training and expertise to do this yourself.

A directory of food safety consultants is available at the CIEH website

Further information on each of these is available in the ‘Registering And Managing A Food Business’ guide which has been produced by the Food Standards Agency

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme Toggle accordion

What the officer finds during their inspection will affect the score you may be awarded under the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.  Scores range from 0 to 5, and members of the public have access to this information.

What to do if you are not happy with your Food Hygiene Rating Toggle accordion

To ensure fairness to businesses, St Albans District Council have an appeals procedure in place for Food Business Operators to dispute the food hygiene rating given in respect of their establishment if they consider it to be unjust.

Food Business Operators have a 'right to reply' and this will be published at with the food hygiene rating.

The purpose is to enable the Food Business Operators to give an explanation of subsequent actions that have been taken to rectify non-compliance's or to give reasons for the circumstances at the time of the inspection, rather than to complain or criticise the FHRS or ‘inspecting officer’.

FBOs can send comments electronically via or in writing to the Regulatory Services Manager at St Albans District Council. The text may be edited by us before being published in order to remove any offensive, defamatory, clearly inaccurate or irrelevant remarks.

To download the right to reply form please click on the link below.

Alternatively if you would like to request a hard copy of the Right to Reply or Appeal form you can contact the Business Compliance Team on 01727 819 406 or email stating your business name and address.

Appeals procedure Toggle accordion

The appeals procedure is relevant where the FBO believes that the food hygiene rating given is unjust as it does not reflect the hygiene standards and management controls found at their establishment at the time of inspection.

The appeal has to be made within the period of 21 days beginning with the date the FBO received the food hygiene rating. If the 21 day period has expired and no appeal has been received, then the food hygiene rating will be published on the FSA website at 

To appeal a food hygiene rating, the FBO needs to download and complete the form below and return it by post to the Regulatory Services Manager at St Albans District Council or by email to

Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) Packs

The SFBB packs and diary sheets are no longer available in the paper format. They can still be downloaded for free from the Food Standards Agency website.

It is also possible to buy pre-printed, bound Safer Food Better Business packs and diaries from online sellers, which you can find using an online search.