As a mobile bar business owner, you may be wondering about the legal requirements and regulations regarding food hygiene certificates. Ensuring the safety and well-being of your customers is of utmost importance, and having the necessary certifications is crucial for running a successful mobile bar.
In this blog, we will explore the requirements, laws, and best practices for obtaining a food hygiene certificate for your mobile bar business in the UK. So, let's dive in and find out if you need a food hygiene certificate for your mobile bar business.
Understanding the importance of food hygiene in mobile bars
Maintaining proper food hygiene practices is essential for any business that handles food and drinks, including mobile bars. Neglecting food safety measures can lead to foodborne illnesses and put your customers at risk.
It is alarming to know that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggests that around 2.4 million people in the UK fall ill due to contaminated food every year. As a responsible mobile bar owner, it is your duty to ensure that your customers are safe from harmful bacteria and viruses.
Mobile bars come with their own unique set of risks when it comes to food hygiene. Here are a few examples:
- Unwashed fruit garnish: Imagine serving cocktails with unwashed fruit garnishes that may contain harmful chemicals, insects, or animal contaminants.
- Dirty ice cube machine: If your ice machine is not regularly cleaned, it can contaminate the ice cubes, posing a risk to your customers' health.
- Expired or mishandled dairy products: Using expired or improperly stored dairy products can lead to foodborne illnesses. Proper storage and freshness are crucial.
- Sick staff handling glasses: If a staff member is sick with food poisoning and handles glasses and drinks, it can quickly spread to your customers.
There are various illnesses, such as norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli, that mobile bar businesses need to be cautious about. These illnesses can spread rapidly, causing severe health issues for those affected.
With the added concern of COVID-19, maintaining hygiene practices has become even more critical. Customers want to be reassured that the bar they choose is clean and that the staff are taking all necessary precautions to ensure their safety.
Understanding the food hygiene rules for mobile bars
To ensure the safety of your customers and comply with the law, mobile bars must adhere to specific food hygiene rules. Let's take a closer look at some of the important laws and regulations that mobile bar businesses need to follow in the UK.
1. Food Safety Act 1990
The Food Safety Act 1990 makes it illegal to offer food or drinks that can cause harm to people's health. Even if the bar company is unaware of the potential harm, it is still against the law.
It is also prohibited to sell something different from what the customer requested, such as providing regular Coke instead of diet Coke.
2. General Food Law Regulation (EC) No 178/2002
Although this regulation originated from the European Union, it is now part of UK law after Brexit. According to the General Food Law, businesses cannot sell or supply food or drinks that are not safe for consumption. Mobile bars are required to keep records of their food and drink suppliers to ensure traceability and accountability.
3. Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
Under these Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations, local councils have the authority to stop food businesses, including mobile bars, from selling food and drinks if they fail to comply with hygiene practices.
It is necessary to understand and abide by these regulations to maintain a safe and hygienic environment for your customers.
Food safety certificates and training for bar staff
While it is not a legal requirement for staff working in mobile bars to have food safety certificates, it is highly recommended and important for maintaining a high standard of food hygiene. Training your staff in food hygiene practices will equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out their job safely.
A food hygiene course covers a wide range of topics, including:
- Proper food storage techniques
- Personal hygiene and appropriate work attire
- Thorough cleaning and disinfection of the bar area
- Prevention of food poisoning
- Identification and prevention of pests
- Avoiding cross-contamination
- Safe disposal of waste
- Correct procedures for transportation and storage of ice
Food hygiene courses can be completed in person or online, and typically require renewal every three years. When hiring a mobile bar, it is advisable to ask for proof of food safety certificates from the staff.
All staff members should have at least a Food Hygiene Certificate Level 2 to ensure the highest standards of food hygiene.
Proving compliance with food hygiene requirements
To demonstrate your mobile bar's compliance with food hygiene requirements, there are several steps you can take. These measures will not only ensure the safety of your customers but also establish your credibility as a responsible and reputable mobile bar business.
1. Registration with the local council
All mobile bars, like other food businesses, must register with their local council. This registration process involves providing necessary information about your business and its operations.
The council's environmental health officer (EHO) may conduct inspections periodically to ensure compliance with food hygiene standards.
2. Environmental health officer inspections
The EHO may conduct inspections of your mobile bar to assess its cleanliness, storage practices, pest control measures, and waste disposal procedures. These inspections typically occur every six months to two years, depending on the level of risk associated with your business.
However, the council has the authority to conduct inspections at any time, especially if they receive complaints from the public.
During the inspection, the EHO will assign a hygiene score to your mobile bar, ranging from 0 to 5. A score of 5 indicates excellent hygiene practices, while a score of 0 indicates significant improvements are required.
The EHO will provide guidance on how to improve your score. If there is an immediate risk to public health, the council may temporarily close your business until the necessary improvements are made.
3. Food hygiene rating scores
Before booking a mobile bar for your event, it is advisable to check their food hygiene rating. The food hygiene rating scores are publicly available and provide an indication of the bar's commitment to food safety.
A rating of 5 is a positive sign that the staff and management take food hygiene seriously. You can easily search for food hygiene rating scores online to ensure you choose a mobile bar with a high level of hygiene.
Additional considerations for mobile bar business owners
While having a food hygiene certificate is crucial for operating a mobile bar business, there are other factors to consider to ensure the smooth and legal operation of your business. Let's explore some of these considerations:
As a mobile bar business owner, you need to understand the licensing requirements for selling alcohol. While a mobile bar does not require a premise license, you, as the owner, must hold a personal alcohol license.
This, along with a temporary events notice (TEN), allows you to legally serve alcohol at various locations. It is important to familiarise yourself with the licensing laws and obtain the necessary permits to operate within the legal framework.
Having insurance cover is crucial for protecting your mobile bar business. You should ensure that your bar is fully insured to cover any accidents, damage, or injuries that may occur.
Public liability insurance and mobile bar insurance is particularly important as it covers accidents or injuries sustained by your customers during the event.
Establishing clear and fair cancellation policies is essential for both you and your customers. Your terms and conditions should clearly state whether deposits are refundable or non-refundable and specify any timeframes for full refunds. It is essential to communicate your cancellation policies to your customers to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes.
In conclusion, obtaining a food hygiene certificate for your mobile bar business is not a legal requirement for staff members. However, it is highly recommended to ensure the highest standards of food hygiene and customer safety.
Training your staff and implementing proper food hygiene practices will establish your mobile bar as a reputable and responsible business.
Additionally, complying with licensing requirements, maintaining insurance coverage, and having clear cancellation policies are important considerations for a successful and legally compliant mobile bar business.
Remember, the safety and satisfaction of your customers should always be your top priority. By adhering to food hygiene regulations and implementing best practices, you can provide a safe and enjoyable experience for your customers while building a strong reputation in the mobile bar industry.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. It is always advisable to consult with legal and insurance professionals for specific requirements and guidance related to your mobile bar business.