News and Views
Mobile Catering Risks
Mobile catering services have a very specific set of health, safety, motor, and food preparation-related risks. Therefore, to be successful, mobile caterers and pop-up food stalls not only need to have distinctive menus, but they need to develop comprehensive risk management plans.
Mobile Catering Legislation
Regardless the type of mobile catering you are involved in, there are 10 legal requirements you must follow in order to be able to serve menu items to the public.
- Register with the local authority. You must register your business with the Environmental Health Department at your local authority, 28 days before you begin serving food.
- Acquire the correct licences. A Trading Licence is required if you plan to operate on public streets or roadsides, but not for events/shows or if you will be on private land. You must have a licence if the organisers of an event do not.
- Complete the relevant Legal Structure paperwork to register as a business.
- Conduct a Food Safety Risk Assessment based on the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points.
- Ensure each employee completes food hygiene and food safety training.
- Protect your business with at least employers’ liability insurance, public liability insurance and product liability insurance.
- Have your vehicle or stall certified by a Gas Safe engineer
- Have your vehicle or stall certified by a National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation registered electrician.
- Develop a comprehensive Food Safety Management System and a Due Diligence System.
- Install hand-washing facilities separate from the pot-washing facilities in your vehicle or stall.
Mobile caterers are also subject to food regulations dictating recording, quality and labelling requirements. For a comprehensive list of all food regulations, visit The Food Standards Agency.
The Risks of Mobile Catering
The nomadic freedom that mobile caterers and street food stalls enjoy also inherently allows for exposure to risks that are unique to their experience. Potential risks can be divided into two distinct categories:
- Containers that store food can become damaged or dislodged during travel, which exposes that food to contamination, spoilage or total loss.
- Improper maintenance of gas and electrical systems could lead to fires or explosions.
- A location may not have adequate electrical or water connections, which could impact what menu items can be prepared.
- Inclement weather at an event could damage your vehicle or stall, or it could detract from business.
- During travel, your vehicle or stall could be exposed to damages caused by a motor accident.
Food Preparation and Handling Risks
- Containers could be mislabelled, which could lead to contamination, spoilage or fines.
- Food that is improperly stored or prepared could lead to spoilage or illness.
- Lax staff hygiene could lead to illness.
- Dirty, cramped kitchens can cause slips and trips.
- Improper knife handling can cause serious injuries.
While this is not a comprehensive list of all the possible risks that mobile caterers and pop-up food stalls may face, it does illustrate some of the most costly.
Mobile Catering Risk Management Strategies
As the owner or manager of a mobile catering service, there are preparations you must implement before you can begin serving food. Again, these precautions can be divided into two distinct categories:
Transport Risk Management
- Have all gas appliances and connections inspected at least annually by a registered Gas Safe engineer and train your employees on how to install new tanks and inspect the gas systems for hazards.
- Install secure storage to limit container and supply movement. After your vehicle has been loaded, ensure that the containers will not move or spill.
- During transport, until its use, all food must be kept below 8 degrees Celsius.
- Before attending an event, confirm that there will be adequate electrical and water connections available for your vehicle or stall at the location.
- Provide employees with training on how to drive and reverse the mobile catering vehicle.
Food Preparation and Handling Risk Management
- Every time fresh food is placed in a clean, air-tight storage container, it needs to be labelled with the current date and the container’s contents.
- Keep an accurate record of your suppliers, how fresh their ingredients are and when the ingredients were used.
- After preparing a hot dish, the food must be kept above 63 degrees Celsius.
- Provide your staff with training on the proper hygiene and hand-washing practices.
- Develop a Due Diligence System that includes instructions and procedures on a Food Hygiene
Management System, health and safety, and fire.
Neither list fully illustrates every precaution you must take to mitigate the potential risks. However, both provide a beneficial risk management overview.
Specific Mobile Catering Insurance
If you are already trading you will almost certainly already have some sort of insurance cover but there may well be gaps in this cover if it wasn’t specifically designed for your area of business. To ensure that you are properly protected, contact us today for a free review of your cover.