Because your business will be involved in food preparation, storage and sale, you must be aware of relevant food safety legislation.

The Food Safety Act

It is vitally important that all businesses in the food industry comply with food safety legislation to protect their customers. The Food Safety Act and Food Hygiene Regulations cover all aspects of food preparation, storage and sale. Your staff should be trained in food safety and ideally at least one person should have gained a Food Hygiene qualification. You will need to put in place food safety management procedures based on HACCP principles. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and is a system used to identify possible food safety problems and to put in place procedures to stop these happening. You can find out more about HACCP on the Food Standards Agency website.

Food labelling and information regulations

There are food labelling and information regulations that you need to be aware of:

Bread labelling

Bread sold loose/unwrapped or pre-packed for sale on the same premises must be labelled or have a notice on it telling customers what type of bread it is, for example wholemeal bread or rye bread. It is illegal to use the name 'wheatmeal bread'. Details of additives, such as antioxidants, must also be displayed as well as details of irradiated ingredients. Special rules apply to labelling requirements for organic bread and for gluten-free or low gluten bakery items.

Cake and flour confectionery labelling

Cakes should be labelled with their name and the information must not be misleading. For example, if you describe a product as a cream cake, the cream must be 100% dairy cream. As with bread, you will have to display a notice informing your customers about any additives included in your cakes. Details of irradiated ingredients must also be displayed. If gluten-free or low gluten claims are made, specific labelling and compositional requirements apply.

Savoury products, meat pies and sausage rolls

You must label these products with:

  • the name of the food
  • the additives they contain
  • the minimum percentage meat content

Pre-packed goods for resale

If you supply pre-packed food (such as sandwiches, pasties, wrapped bread and so on) to another outlet for resale, then this must be labelled with:

  • the name of the food
  • a list of ingredients, and the percentage of certain ingredients. Specified allergenic ingredients must be shown
  • either a 'use by' date for highly perishable foods or a 'best before' date
  • details of any genetically modified or irradiated ingredients
  • any special storage conditions or conditions of use
  • the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller

In addition, nutritional information must be given if a claim is made such as 'low fat' or 'healthy'.

The use of the terms 'wholemeal' and 'wheatgerm' is restricted. Bread may be described as wholemeal only if all the flour used is wholemeal flour. Wheatgerm may only be used to describe bread if the flour contains at least 10% processed wheatgerm.

Allergen information

You must provide information about any allergenic ingredients used in your bakery goods and other products, whether they are sold loose (unwrapped) or prepacked. There are 14 major allergens that you will need to declare, including common ingredients like gluten, milk and eggs. You can find out more on the Business Companion website.

Genetically modified ingredients

If genetically modified soya or maize, or additives and flavouring from GM sources are used in bakery items, notification of this must be included in the labelling of pre-packed products. If the products are sold loose, notices to the effect that they contain genetically modified ingredients must be displayed and staff trained to provide information.

Visit your local authority trading standards website for further information.

Various helpful publications, including the free Safer food better business pack and Safe catering (Northern Ireland), are available from the Food Standards Agency. You can order publications through the Food Standards Agency publications orderline on 0845 606 0667 or you can visit the Food Standards Agency website.