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Food Premises Approval

Your food business may need approval if you intend to use products of animal origin and supply to other premises (even within your ownership), as a significant part of your overall business.

If your food business is a slaughterhouse or meat cutting plant, it will require approval by the Food Standards Agency.

Please note that food premises approval is significantly different to food premises registration.

If your food business requires approval, there are a number of requirements which need to be fulfilled. It is a criminal offence to commence food business activity unless conditional or full approval has been granted.

Eligibility criteria

Your business premises or vehicle must be based within County Durham to be approved by us. Examples of the type of stand-alone premises (in other words, those premises not attached to a slaughter house, cutting plant or game-handling establishment) that are required to be approved by us include:

  • meat/meat product (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, rabbit etc) plants
  • meat processing plants
  • meat preparation plants
  • minced meat processing operations and mechanically separated meat processing plants
  • certain cold stores
  • premises dealing with live bi-valve molluscs (for example, mussels and oysters)
  • premises dealing with fishery products
  • premises dealing with milk and milk products
  • premises dealing with eggs
  • premises dealing with frogs legs and snails
  • certain wholesale markets

Your business can not operate until your food operation has been approved by us.


There are a number of exemptions from approval and consideration is given on a case-by-case basis.

If you are a retailer, or have a retail element to your business and intend to supply to other retailers or caterers you could be exempt from approval if the supply of the food of animal origin is "marginal, localised and restricted".

Marginal - is interpreted as a small part of the establishment's business, and meaning up to a quarter of the business in terms of food or less than two tonnes in terms of meat.

Localised - is interpreted as meaning sales within the supplying establishment's own county plus the greater of either the neighbouring county or counties, or 30 miles from the boundary of the supplying establishment's county.

Restricted - is interpreted as concerning only certain types of products being made or establishments being supplied.

If a food business is exempt from the requirement to be approved, it must be registered with us at least 28 days before the business opens or within 28 days of taking over an existing food business. Failure to register a food business or notify significant changes is an offence. See our Register your food premises page for more information.


There is no fee required for a Food Premises Approval application.

Applications must be fully completed and the requested documentation supplied. Failure to do this may mean your application is rejected.

If you are unsure as to whether you need approval for your premises or if they are exempt, please contact us for advice.  The law relating to approval is complex and may result in unnecessary expense if advice is not sought and discussed prior to completing an application.

Approving your application

A food business will only be approved if you have fully met the requirements of:

and other requirements of food law relevant to the type of food business establishment covering:

  • structure of premises, equipment and layout
  • prerequisites applicable to all food business establishments, eg procedures for maintaining environmental hygiene including the management and disposal of waste animal by-products: traceability including food chain information and training and supervision
  • provision of appropriate food safety management procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principals

When we receive your application, we will assess it for the relevant information and make sure that the premises need approval. Approval can only be granted following the correct submission of an application form together with the relevant documents. It is necessary, we will carry out a detailed inspection of the premises and/or ask for further information.

An advisory visit may be arranged when we have received an application before we agree an approval inspection visit. The aim of the advisory visit will be to help you identify any problems in the areas of structure, maintenance and food safety management, so as to avoid any potential difficulties when the establishment is formally assessed for approval.

Where full approval is given, a unique identification mark will be allocated and should be applied to packaging and labelling on products. We will notify the Food Standards Agency of the approval in order for details to be entered onto the national register.

Conditional approval (rather than full approval) may be given in the first instance. This means that your business must operate within identified restrictions or take certain additional measures. Your business will be inspected again three months after conditional approval is given. At this time, full approval may be granted, conditional approval given for a further three months or approval will be refused altogether.

You must not trade before approval of premises has been given.

Implied granting of approval ('tacit consent')

It is in the public interest that we process your application before approval can be granted to make sure public health is not compromised. This means that you do not have the legal right (known as 'tacit consent') to assume that your licence is granted just because you have not heard from us.

The time taken in order to process and grant your approval may depend on the size and nature of your business, and areas to be addressed.  We aim to acknowledge receipt of applications within five working days. Please contact us if you have not heard from us within ten days of your application being submitted.

We aim to process your approval within 28 days of receiving a successfully completed application together with all supporting information and documentation as requested in the application.

Appealing our decision

You have the right of appeal where food premises approval is refused or is granted as only conditional. You can get further information on this from us. 

Licence holder redress

Contact us if there's a complaint related to existing premises approvals.

Notification of changes

Once premises approval has been given, it is a legal requirement for food business operators to ensure that we are kept updated in writing with changes to business activities. In particular, we must be kept informed of changes to the business name, ownership of the business, scope of the premises and product lines. You should also let us know if the premises close down.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, Citizens Advice Consumer Service will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

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