Pop-up restaurants have been told that they must comply with food safety regulations and register with local councils before trading.
The warning, from inspection, assurance and auditing service providersLloyd’s Register, is driven by the huge increase in street food and pop-up restaurant vendors in the UK in recent years. However, the pop-up dining boom has raised fears that some vendors could cut corners with food safety regulations and in their food handling and storage regimes.
Justine Wadge, Technical Consultant, Customised Assurance at Lloyd’s Register, says that pop-ups are governed by the same regulations as permanent restaurants. “There is a misconception that the transient and temporary nature of pop-up restaurants means that they aren’t governed by the same regulations, such as the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013 or the Regulation (EC) 852/2004. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the food regulatory regime in the UK.”
Ms Wadge says that over-stretched council resources are also potentially creating holes in the system. “Local councils just don’t have the resources to deal with the pop-up restaurant explosion, particularly when some vendors may only be on site for one or two days,” she says. “If there are not enough local environmental health inspectors this could cause the unaware to unwittingly carry out practices that could lead to a food poisoning outbreak and encourage the unscrupulous to try and cut corners.”
She continued: “Even if a vendor is only in one location for a few days, temporary food businesses must still register with the local council, specifically the environmental health inspectors.”
The boom in pop-up restaurants in the UK has taken many forms, from market stalls to food trucks and vacant shop units and Ms Wadge says that self-policing is inevitably going to form a large part of the regulatory solution. “It is the responsibility of the pop-up to ensure that they are doing things properly. The old safety net of council inspections is no longer there and that leaves vendors more and more exposed.”
She continued: “Training is key for all pop-up vendors, particularly with basic hygiene and food storage principles, such as separate worktops for raw and ready to eat preparation, refrigeration, cleaning stations and personal hygiene.”
“My advice to pop-up restaurant owners is to empower yourself with the knowledge required via the training and consultation that is available. In the long-term doing the bare minimum is a false economy. Without the proper food handling and storage techniques, pop-up restaurants risk leaving themselves open to prosecution and civil claims if anything goes wrong. What’s more, with recent changes to the sentencing guidelines, businesses could be facing large penalties for infringements of the regulations.”