Food Businesses

Advice for Temporary Food Delivery or Collection Service during the Coronavirus/COVID19 Outbreak

We are aware that several small catering businesses across the borough have started offering delivery services in light of the Covid19 outbreak  Please read the advice on this page and/or download the PDF guidance leaflet to help your business do this safely and successfully. Please contact the Environmental Health team if you have any questions.

Registering a Food Business

If you are planning to start a new business that involves the sale of food you must register your business with the Council at least 28 days before opening. The registration is a simple online process using the website and there is no cost to register a food business.

Register your business here

Environmental Health Officers ensure food premises comply with food safety legislation and they provide advice and information to those involved in the preparation, production and sale of food.  We endeavour to ensure that all such food and food packaging meet relevant standards for quality, composition, labelling, presentation and advertising.

The Environmental Health Department undertakes a wide range of activities in relation to food control including:

  • carry out planned food hygiene and food standards inspections of all food businesses located within the Ards and North Down Borough Council area
  • approval of manufacturing premises that handle meat products, dairy products, fish products, and other types of food of animal origin
  • investigate food complaints and complaints about the hygiene of premises
  • investigate cases and outbreaks of food poisoning
  • carry out routine microbiological and compositional sampling of food
  • check food labelling
  • respond to food alerts
  • advise businesses on the layout of food premises, food safety management systems, hygiene standards, food labelling and training
  • promote food safety in the home and provide information to the general public, businesses and voluntary organisations on any aspect of food safety and food standards

Register a new Business

If you want to start a food business, you need to tell us about any premises you use for storing, selling, distributing or preparing food 28 days before starting up. If you use premises in more than one local authority area, you must register with each authority separately. If you operate a mobile food vehicle, you should register with the local authority in whose district you usually store your van overnight.

Food businesses include:

  • restaurants
  • hotels
  • cafes
  • shops
  • supermarkets
  • staff canteens
  • warehouses
  • guest houses
  • market and other stalls
  • ice cream vans


Most food businesses will only require registration. However, if you are operating a business producing and/or supplying products of animal origin to other food businesses, you may be required to apply for EC approval to use your establishment for that purpose. Products of animal origin include meat products, fishery products, minced meat, meat preparations etc.

  • If you cook meat pies in your premises and only sell them to members of the public you will not require approval
  • If you cook meat pies and only sell them to other businesses such as restaurants, shops etc, then you would require approval
  • If you cook meat pies and supply members of the public and food businesses, you may require approval. If approval is required, you will have to adhere to additional requirements with regard to structure, layout, health marking etc. This is a complicated area of food law and each case needs to be looked at individually. Please contact us to discuss your operation if you think approval may be required.

Advice for Temporary Food Delivery or Collection Service during the Coronavirus/COVID19 Outbreak

This advisory note (downloadable below as a PDF) is intended for registered food businesses wishing to operate a temporary delivery or collection service during the current difficult trading period.  It contains some simple advice for those wishing to offer a basic food preparation and delivery service.  It remains the responsibility of each food business operator to ensure that the principles of your HACCP based food safety management system are followed. This may require you to amend your procedures and to provide additional instruction to staff. 

Complex menus will require particular attention to ensure food is safe.  The cooking and preparation of food should be carried out ensuring that you are taking all the normal food safety precautions that you would normally be expected of your food business.  In particular, regular effective hand washing is essential.

Food should be packaged securely, covered, enclosed, sealed in containers or using materials that are suitable, designed for the purpose and are food safe.  

When a customer places an order for food staff should ask about any allergen concerns.  If a customer makes a request that food should not contain an allergenic ingredient, then this should be clearly recorded on the order.  When completed for delivery the order should be labelled in a clear and legible manner to enable the customer to easily identify the food which does not contain the allergen of concern.  It is important that if you do not have a procedure for controlling possible cross contamination of allergens that you inform the customer of this possibility.

Caution - Chilled Food
Food which has been cooked and then chilled carries additional risks as food poisoning bacteria will grow even during chilled storage and proper reheating is essential.  You should prepare food and ingredients on the day of use if possible and keep chilled until needed.  Frozen ingredients should be defrosted using safe methods – see link below.  The food should be kept in the refrigerator until needed and packaged for delivery.

 Do not attempt to guess how long food can be kept by the customer prior to consumption. Unless you have scientific evidence that the food will remain safe it is suggested that the food should be clearly labelled to be reheated (or eaten cold) as appropriate on the day of purchase.

 Chilled food should be clearly labelled informing the customer to place it in the refrigerator and to keep refrigerated until reheating the food or if intended to be eaten cold.

 If the food requires to be reheated then it should be labelled with reheating instructions.

Every effort should be made to ensure food is maintained at a safe temperature during delivery.  Cold food should be packed into cool boxes containing ice packs or wrapped in clean insulated blankets.

Hot food should be supplied with the intention that it will be consumed immediately and should be delivered to the customer in the shortest time possible.

If delivery vehicles are being used for other purposes when food is not being delivered they should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before being used to deliver food.

 Personal Hygiene
Your food may be consumed by People with a ‘high risk’ health condition. It is essential that all staff and especially those that prepare or handle open food continue to observe the very highest standards of personal hygiene and handwashing in line with the widely publicised NHS guidelines 

 Protect Your Business

You are advised to draw up a simple written procedure for staff to follow when taking orders and preparing food for delivery and ensure that staff are instructed accordingly.  You are advised to maintain a record of the steps you have taken. If you require any further advice or clarification of any of the points raised in this note, you should not hesitate to contact the council’s Environmental Health team

Phone: 0300 013 3333

 The following links contain important information that will assist you to provide a safe delivery and/or collection service.

 How to safely defrost frozen ingredients       

 Allergen guidance

 Safer Food Better Business

 Other guidance can be found by following links from the Food Standards Agency home page: