A primary food producer must meet food safety and hygiene requirements. A producer, processor or distributor must be registered with the competent authority, usually the local food authority. A manufacturer or handler of animal products may need to obtain approval from the Food Standards Agency or the local food authority. A business identification mark must be placed on products

Producers, processors and distributors of food must meet requirements depending on the business activity. The following requirements may apply

  • microbiological requirements
  • temperature control requirements
  • maintaining cold chain
  • use of sampling and analysis
  • ensuring premises and equipment are adequate
  • ensure raw materials are of acceptable quality
  • handling, control and disposal of food waste
  • control pests
  • cleaning and disinfecting
  • high degree of staff, cleanliness
  • suitable and protective clothing
  • staff health
  • staff training
  • identifying food hazards food safety hazards
  • examine critical control points
  • set limits for acceptability
  • procedures to monitor  critical control is
  • procedures to verify working
  • document and records to show measures are effective
  • production of documents to local authority.

A food business must ensure that food meets the standards for microbiological contamination. Food must not be contaminated with certain chemical such as mercury above certain limits.

Food of Animal Origin

A food business that deals with food of animal origin must comply with strict hygiene, health and traceability requirements. See our guides in relation to agricultural regulation and farming and also our guides in relation to the customs, excise and licences in relation to regulation at the level of the primary producer.

Products must be produced in an establishment approved under EU regulations. A health mark and identification marks must be applied in accordance with EU law.  Consignments must usually be accompanied by required documentation. The requirements do not apply to domestic use or consumption direct supply of small quantities.

Meat Products

Foods Standards Agency approval is required for a premises that processes or handles meat. This applies to red and poultry meat slaughterhouses game handling establishments, cutting plants, cold stores and meat plants.

Any person or business  which makes meat products must

  • use and provide a minimum quantity of meat as specified for products such as burger sausages and meat pies;
  • ensure meat content, consistent with the EU definition;
  • clearly label meat content;
  • fat and connective tissue above certain levels;
  • label other non-meat ingredients and certain other matters, including meat of different species.

It is prohibited to sell uncooked meat products prepared from certain animal parts.

Origin and Labeling

European Union law allows protected designation of origin and protection of geographical indications. To qualify, the product must be processed or prepared in a geographical area indicating specific quality reputation or characteristics that are attributable to that area. Registered producers must undergo annual inspections to verify ongoing compliance.


There are detailed requirements in relation to the description, presentation, packaging and labelling of food. Pre-packed foods must be labelled and display certain minimum information. This includes the name of the food, a sufficiently accurate description, list of ingredients, additives, GMO  ingredients, the date for marketing special storage instructions, instructions for use, the name of manufacturer, packager or seller place of origin, batch number and allergens.  There are restrictions on the substantive contents of claims made in relation to the food. There are requirements in relation to nutrition labelling.

It is not permitted to sell GM food or food products unless they are authorised and labelled. Food and animal feed consisting of or containing genetically modified ingredients must be clearly labelled. GM sources that have not been assessed and approved by the EU are prohibited.  They are not permitted in food at any level. An exemption may apply to the requirement for GM labelling, within certain limits.

Additives, Coloring and Solvents

The use of the following is subject to restrictions. In some cases, there is an absolute prohibition. In other cases, certain foods must not contain the product. In other cases there are maximum permitted quantities and purity levels absolutely or in respect of different foods;

  • food colorings
  • certain solvents extraction solvents
  • flavourings
  • additives
  • vitamins

Food colourings may only be added subject to certain conditions. The Food Standards Agency provides guidance.

Excise Requirements

A manufacturer or importer of alcohol or liquors must comply with excise legislation. Excise payments must be made to HMRC when alcohol is released on the market. The rate of duty depends on the type of drink and alcohol content.

Producers, packers, importers and exporters must register their premises and pay duty. This is part of the control system necessary to collect excise duties. An account must be maintained with the Revenue Authorities. Records are required of production and of alcohol leaving the premises. Duty must be calculated. Records must be kept for six years and they may be inspected.

Manufacturer of spirits must have a licence and use approved processes.  HMRC must approve the plant. There must be adequate security measures. Full and accurate records of production must be kept. Spirits for maturation must be stored in an excise warehouse with appropriate approval.

Producers of wine must obtain an excise licence. HMRC require details of the place of manufacture, which must be approved. Business records must be kept and returns must be made in relation to duty and payments.

Spirits at 15% or higher alcohol are subject to requirements at EU level in relation to definition, description and presentation labelling and packaging There are protections for certain geographical indications


Bottled drinking water is subject to labelling and other requirements. There are quality and safety standards in relation to physical, chemical and microbiological properties. Natural mineral water must come from a recognized source.


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