Trading Standards Institute Advice

Design of food premises

This leaflet is for all food businesses, including those involved in catering, food production, food preparation, retail premises, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and fast-food shops.

What does design of food premises mean?
The design of food premises means thinking about the best way to make use of the space that you have. You need to think about food safety and how you can make the best use of your space to limit the risk of food being contaminated and being unsafe for customers.

Why do I need to worry?
Your food premises must be 'fit for purpose' as required under UK food safety law. This means that they must be built, laid out and managed in a way that will prevent contamination and not harm food or food products.

You must make sure, in line with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, that you do everything 'reasonably practicable' to look after the welfare and health and safety of yourselves, your employees, and your customers. This includes keeping the work area clean and hygienic.

What do I have to do?
You need to think about how to make sure your premises are kept 'fit for purpose' in line with the law. Unfortunately, not all food premises are built specifically for food use. There are many food businesses that use premises that are not new, and have been adapted for either catering or retail use.

There are three main issues:

1. How premises can best reduce the risk of contamination
Contamination means the transfer of harmful micro-organisms to food, often from raw food to cooked and ready-to-eat food.

Cooking is how you would normally make food safe. Once you have cooked food you need to keep it safe from contamination.

You should think of raw food as dirty and cooked food as clean, and then make sure you keep raw and cooked food apart. We use the term 'work flow', which means moving food through the kitchen or processing area from dirty (raw) to clean (cooked). 

The best way of controlling contamination is simply to keep raw and cooked foods in different places. This could mean you need completely separate work areas or tables and cutting boards. However, you may not be able to do this if you don't have much space.

You can control contamination by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting:

  • contact surfaces
  • utensils
  • equipment

...whenever you use them and between tasks, particularly when you change from handling raw to cooked food.

A food business must have sufficient sinks to minimise the chances of cross-contamination. A specific number is not set down in law and it will depend on the type of food premises. Every kitchen must have one or more completely separate hand wash basins used only for hand washing. This/these must be must be easily accessible to staff.

To control contamination, you need to think about the facilities you need for cleaning and disinfection.

2. Choice of materials used in the structure
Something easy to clean has more chance of being cleaned and staying clean. The easiest way to do this is to think about how to make the areas and equipment easy to clean.

There are several terms used to describe materials and equipment:

'Porous' means that, like a sponge, the surface will absorb grease and dirt, hold bacteria and be difficult to clean and disinfect. You should avoid materials that are porous such as untreated or unsealed wood or bare brickwork.

'Impervious' means the opposite of porous - a surface that grease and dirt can't soak into or soak through. Smooth hard surfaces such as stainless steel, ceramic tiles or good-quality laminate kitchen worktop (Formica) are all 'impervious'. Avoid textured surfaces such as Artex.

'Durable' means hard-wearing. You should buy catering-grade equipment which is designed for heavy use and less likely to be damaged. Apart from the risk of contamination, damage exposes surfaces that are difficult to clean - for example chips on a china cup or a laminate surface.

'Non-toxic' - anything made to come into contact with food must not be harmful. You should avoid materials that may rust or react with foods.

'Non-tainting' - tainted food has the wrong taste or content. It may be just unpleasant to eat, but it could also be harmful. The taint may come from another food, such as garlic, or substance, such as plastic or metallic packaging.

3. Layout of premises and equipment
You also need to think about your layout. You shouldn't create areas where food, grease and dirt may build up and that you can't access, as you won't be able to clean them properly.

You may need to fit flexible connections so large equipment such as cookers and sinks can be moved so you can clean behind them. You should make sure you can clean pipes and drains. You should also design the layout of cladding or boxing for pipes and wires, and floor surfaces, to avoid creating skirtings and corners which are difficult to clean.

You should also remember that all work and other surfaces can suffer from a build-up of grease and dirt, particularly if there is poor ventilation or flow of fresh air. You may need to think about an extractor fan or ventilation systems. You should also make sure that ceiling surfaces and fittings are light-coloured and easy to clean.

More information
You will find further guidance in our other leaflets on this website. Information can also be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

Alternatively, contact your local environmental health service for advice.

Please note
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance.

© 2017 itsa Ltd.