Catering & Retail

Providing food for other people through catering and retail establishments means being aware of – and following – food safety law.

On this page, Caterers and Retailers can find information on hygiene legislation and specific areas including:

Please note, many of the links on this page will take you to an external website (, and Food Standards Scotland has no responsibility for the content.

For information on Additives, see our Additives page

For information on Contaminants, see our Contaminants page.

Food allergy information is on our Allergy page and you can also check out our Food Labels section.

For essential advice on the Four C's - cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling, cooking- see our Food Safety & Hygiene page.

Avoiding cross contamination

For more information, please visit [external site] for cross-contamination guidance. Although E.coli is the key focus of this guidance, the measures outlined will also help in the control of other bacteria, such as campylobacter and salmonella.

Starting a food business

All the advice you need on starting a food business.

More on starting a business

Contact your local authority

You local authority will be able to help you:

  •  register your food business- at least 28 days before opening
  •  to plan your business
  •  organise waste and recycling collection
  •  get appropriate training and tools

Find the contact details of your nearest local authority.

Register your business at least 28 days before opening. Registration is free. Registration applies to most types of food business, including catering businesses run from home and mobile or temporary premises, such as stalls and vans. If you have more than one premises, you will need to register all of them.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point

Everyone in the food industry is aware of the importance of good food hygiene practices and of the need to handle food in a safe, clean environment.

If you’re a caterer, retailer or butcher, a HACCP based food safety management system has been developed  to assist you in producing safe food. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. HACCP is a widely accepted food safety management system, which can easily be adapted to suit all sizes and types of food business. The main aim of HACCP is to focus attention on the critical points in the operation and to take measures to ensure that problems so not occur.

HACCP guides

CookSafe is designed to assist catering businesses understand and implement a HACCP based system. By reading the pack and following the instructions, you will be able to develop HACCP based procedures which will fit your needs.



This cross-contamination guidance will help you understand what you need to do. You can see more on control of cross-contamination on

Food safety for butchers

If you’re a butcher, or you work in a butcher’s shop, this ButcherSafe pack will help.

You can also see how local authorities enforce hygiene in butchers’ shops.

Food law inspections and your business

When inspectors visit, they must follow Food Standards Scotland’s Framework Agreement on local authority food law enforcement, and the Food Law Code of Practice. The Framework Agreement, sets standards for how local authorities carry out their enforcement duties.

You can expect the inspectors to show you identification when they arrive and be polite throughout the visit. They should always give you feedback on an inspection. This means they will tell you about any problems they have identified and advise you about how they can be avoided.

If inspectors advise you to do something, they must tell you whether you need to do it to comply with the law, or whether it is good practice. If you are asked to take any action as a result of the inspection, you must be given the reasons in writing. If the inspectors decide that you are breaking a law, they must tell you what that law is.

The inspectors should give you a reasonable amount of time to make changes, except where there is an immediate risk to public health. They must also tell you how you can appeal against their actions.

Inspection action

When they think it is necessary, inspectors can take ‘enforcement action’, to protect the public. For example, they can:

  • inspect your records
  • take samples and photographs of food
  • write to you informally, asking you to put right any problems
  • detain or seize suspect foods

They can also serve you with a notice. There are three main types of notice:

  • ‘Hygiene improvement notice’ or 'food labelling improvement notice' – sets out certain things that you must do to comply, if your business is breaking the law.
  • ‘Hygiene emergency prohibition notice’ – forbids the use of certain processes, premises or equipment and must be confirmed by a court.
  • 'Remedial action notice' - forbids the use of certain processes, premises or equipment, or imposes conditions on how a process is carried out. It's similar to a hygiene emergency prohibition notice, but it does not need to be confirmed by a court.

It is a criminal offence not to comply with a notice once served.

Inspectors can also recommend a prosecution, in serious cases. If a prosecution is successful, the court may forbid you from using certain processes, premises or equipment, or you could be banned from managing a food business. It could also lead to a fine or imprisonment.


Every local authority must have a formal procedure to deal with complaints about its service. So if you do not agree with action taken by an inspector, you should contact the head of environmental health or trading standards services at your local authority, to see if the problem can be resolved through talking or writing letters. If you still disagree after that, you could approach your local councillor. If you are not happy with a local authority's complaints process, you can contact your local government or public services ombudsman.

You can appeal to the Sheriff about a local authority’s decision to issue a hygiene improvement notice or remedial notice, or not to lift a hygiene emergency prohibition order. When there is a ban on an individual, this can only be lifted by the court. Any person served with a food labelling improvement notice may appeal against that notice to the First-tier Tribunal.

When inspectors impose a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on premises, a process, or a piece of equipment, they must apply to the court or a Sheriff for confirmation within a specified period of time. Food that has been seized by an inspector can only be condemned as unfit for human consumption on the authority of a Sheriff.

You can attend the court hearing if you want to. If the court decides that premises have been shut without proper reason, or food has been wrongly seized or detained, you have a right to compensation.

Food Ratings

The Food Hygiene Information Scheme gives Scotland’s consumers useful information on the hygiene standards in restaurants, takeaways and food shops. The resources in this toolkit will help you make sure your business gets a ‘pass’ – and that people know about it.

The main aim of Eat Safe award scheme for business is to provide an incentive to food businesses to strive for food hygiene and food safety management standards beyond those required by law.

Food waste

The main rules on food waste – including cooking oil – for catering and retail establishments.

Keeping your water supply safe

For serving and in food preparation, your water supply needs to be kept safe.

Related Publications/Resources