Food stall holders

The law requires you to identify possible hazards to food safety, to know which of these is actually important for the type of food you prepare or sell and to provide suitable controls to stop problems occurring

Protecting food from risk of contamination

Food must be protected from the risk of bacterial, chemical and physical contamination during all stages of transport, handling, preparation, display and service. It is the stall holders/market traders responsibility to identify hazards and implement suitable controls to prevent harm to food.

The risk of E. coli O157 cross contamination for example, must be considered and controlled in any food business where both raw foods and ready-to-eat foods are handled and / or where food is sold at livestock markets. Further guidance on controlling risk of contamination by E. coli O157 can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.


All foods must be wrapped, covered or placed in sealed washable containers to prevent contamination of food.

All high risk foods must be kept cool (see section below re: temperature control) and the vehicles used must be kept clean and in good repair.


The surface on which you lay out or prepare food must be smooth and impervious so that it can be thoroughly cleaned. If you are using wooden tables, you must provide plastic sheeting or other suitable covering material.

You will need to wash and dry your hands from time to time and if facilities are not provided or readily available on site, you must bring your own. These should include a supply of hot water, clean towels, bowl and soap. For hot water, insulated flasks should be sufficient in most cases.

For stall holders selling open foods, such as raw meats and / or high risk unwrapped foods such as cooked meats, dairy products and seafood, there must be adequate hand washing facilities at the stall.

If you are using knives or other serving implements, you will need separate washing facilities for these, not those used for hand washing. A separate bowl or sink must be used. You must also regularly wipe down surfaces with clean (preferably disposable) cloths using a food safe cleaner and disinfectant.

Storage and Display

  • Keep food off the floor, ideally 45cms above ground level.
  • Ensure food surfaces are smooth, impervious and capable of being cleaned / disinfected.
  • Keep raw and ready to eat foods apart at all times.
  • If the same person is to handle and serve both raw and cooked products, then strict hand washing immediately after handling raw foods must be observed.
  • Protect food by covering or wrapping it where possible. Open food must be protected from objects such as insects and coins, etc falling into it and from the public touching, coughing or sneezing in the display area by providing suitable "sneeze screens"
  • The provision of colour coded tongs or disposable gloves for handling different foods may be necessary to keep handling of open food to a minimum.
  • Any free samples which are provided must also be protected against contamination e.g. use disposable cocktail sticks or forks to prevent handling. Samples should be left on display for as short a period as possible then replenished.

Temperature control

All perishable foods must be kept at a suitable temperature.

Food which is usually stored in the fridge must be kept below 8ºC (ideally less than 5ºC). If a refrigerated unit is not available it may be adequate to store the product in an insulated container with ice packs. It is possible to display the product at ambient temperatures for a short period of time (in most cases, no more than 4 hours), although it is recommended that you only keep a small amount of food at ambient temperature to minimise the amount of time it is out of temperature control.

If you are selling hot food you must ensure that it is thoroughly cooked to 75 ºC or above before it is sold and kept hot prior to sale (above 63 ºC). An accurate food probe with food safe disinfectant wipes should be used for checking the temperatures of hot food.

Temperature checks on chilled and hot foods should be recorded in a logbook as part of your food safety management arrangements.


You are required to demonstrate (through relevant documentation or information) who has supplied food products to you, including its ingredients so that the source can be identified at any time. If you supply to other food businesses, you must be able to show what product you have supplied and the customer details.

Personal Hygiene

Hand washing is one of the most important steps in producing safe food. Hands must always be washed before starting work, after handling raw food and after any task which may have made them dirty, particularly after visiting the toilet.

Clean over clothing and, where necessary, a hat should be worn when handling food. Long hair should be tied back. Jewellery should not be worn.

Cuts or skin infections must be covered with a waterproof dressing. Food handlers must not handle food at all if they are suffering from an upset stomach. They must not handle food until 48 hours after they are symptom free.


Any person who handles food to any extent, whether the food is open or pre-wrapped, should be suitably trained or instructed in food hygiene matters. Handlers of open food should be trained to at least the Food Hygiene Level 2 (formerly the Basic Food Hygiene Certificate) or similar. Training must be regularly reviewed and updated.


Every food business must be registered with the Local Authority where they are based. Registration is free and you can apply on the Food Standards Agency website.

Food Safety Management Systems

All food businesses must prepare documentation that explains what food safety hazards are relevant to their operation and how they will be controlled and monitored. The type of system you adopt will depend on your business.

A very low risk business such as a stall selling vegetables will need to follow good hygiene practice, whereas a food manufacturer will need a fully documented Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan. A caterer or a stall holder selling home made meat pies for example is somewhere in between. The Food Standards Agency has produced packs for caterers and retailers entitled Safer Food Better Business. If you require advice on the type of system to adopt, contact your Environmental Health Department.

Further Information

The purpose of this guidance is to advise you on how to meet the Food Safety Laws that apply to you whilst trading at a market. However, this page cannot cover all aspects of the law or circumstances that may arise. You are advised to contact your local Environmental Health or Trading Standards services for more specific advice applicable to your business.

Useful contacts

The Food Standards Agency

The National Farmers Retail & Markets Association (FARMA)