In the guide

Although the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) in 2021, certain pieces of legislation (known as 'retained EU law' and to be known as 'assimilated law' from 1 January 2024) continue to apply until such time as they are replaced by new UK legislation, revoked or permitted to expire. This means that you will still see references to EU regulations in our guidance.

This guidance is for England

Farmers and growers must follow basic hygiene procedures to ensure hazards such as contamination arising from soil, water, fertilisers, pesticides, handling of waste, etc are prevented. Records relevant to food safety must also be kept.

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs is aimed at ensuring that controls throughout the food chain are strengthened; it is executed and enforced in England by the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. In particular, the legislation is intended to modernise, consolidate and simplify food hygiene legislation, and to apply effective and proportionate controls throughout the food chain from primary production to sale or supply to the final consumer (known as the farm-to-fork approach).

What types of businesses are covered?

Food businesses and food business operators are defined in Regulation (EC) 178/2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety:

  • 'food business' is defined as "any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food"
  • 'food business operator' is defined as "the natural or legal persons responsible for ensuring that the requirements of food law are met within the food business under their control"

So, for example, any livestock farms, fish farms, arable farms, PYO (pick your own), market gardens or bee keepers producing food for human consumption.

One of the requirements of the Regulation is that, with few exceptions, all food businesses must be approved or registered with their local authority. More information on food business registration or approval is available on the GOV.UK website.

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The farm-to-fork approach of the legislation includes requirements for primary producers. Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 contains various conditions and guides to good hygiene practice, which food businesses, including farmers and growers, will have to comply with as appropriate. The requirements for farmers and growers are fairly basic hygiene procedures. As food businesses, they will have to ensure that hazards are controlled appropriately.

Under food hygiene rules, you will need to take steps to:

  • prevent contamination arising from the air, water, soil, feed, veterinary products, muck spreading, pesticides, waste, etc
  • keep animals intended for slaughter for human consumption clean (at least immediately prior to slaughter and remembering other welfare considerations)
  • prevent animals and pests from causing contamination
  • take account of results from tests relevant to animal and human health
  • use medicines / plant protection products appropriately
  • use clean water to prevent contamination
  • keep clean and if necessary disinfect facilities, equipment and vehicles used to produce, prepare, store and transport food and feed

The legislation requires that you keep records relevant to food safety, including:

  • the nature and origin of your animal feed
  • your use of plant protection products and biocides
  • any veterinary products administered and their withdrawal dates
  • any occurrence of disease or pests that may affect food safety (information required for traceability)
  • the results of any analyses carried out
  • the health status of the animals you send for slaughter
  • the use of genetically modified seeds
  • any cleansing and disinfection undertaken (for example, store areas and machinery)

Good records help protect you and your business in the event of an animal feed or related human food-safety incident and are essential in order to quickly trace the origins of any problem.

Most of the information you need to keep will already be available as invoices, receipts, spray records, etc or as part of the requirements of farm or crop assurance schemes. You should not need to create many new records.

If you do need to record additional information, you may find it useful to complete a farm diary or notebook.

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Trading Standards

For more information on the work of Trading Standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading Standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.

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In this update

No major changes.

Last reviewed / updated: November 2023

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Key legislation

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs

Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links often only shows the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on changes to legislation can be found by following the above links and clicking on the 'More Resources' tab.

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Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

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Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.

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