SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION CONCERNING MOBILE STREET TRADER FOOD HYGIENE STANDARDS
The Scottish Government has now released its consultation concerning food hygiene standards for mobile street traders. The consultation can be accessed here and the closing date for responses is 19 October 2015.
This consultation has arisen from the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and in particular the duplication of red tape surrounding the issue of a food hygiene compliance certificate by local authorities in connection with the processing of applications for street traders licences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
Section 56 of the 2014 Act is in the following terms:
56Application for street trader’s licence: food businesses
In section 39 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (street traders’ licences)—
(a)in subsection (4)—
(i)for “the food ” substitute “a food”,
(ii)after “1990)” insert “mentioned in subsection (4A)”,
(b)after subsection (4) insert—
“(4A)A food authority referred to in subsection (4) is a food authority in Scotland which, in respect of the activity mentioned in that subsection—
(a)has registered the establishment that carries out or intends to carry out the activity for the purposes of Article 6.2 of Regulation EC No. 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, or
(b)where no such food authority has registered the establishment for those purposes, a food authority which is—
(i)the licensing authority to which the application mentioned in subsection (4) in respect of the activity is made, or
(ii)another licensing authority to which an application for a street trader’s licence in respect of the activity is or has been made.”.
Section 56 means that a food business which has registered with a local authority can rely on an certificate of compliance issued by that authority to support an application made for a street trader licence (where the goods to be sold are food) in any other authority.
The point of all this can be summarised by reference to paragraph 3 of this consultation which is a useful summary: “Business has provided examples of growth being constrained or unnecessary burdens being placed on them from inconsistent application of regulation. One complaint from a food business and its trade association concerned the inconsistent application of standards in respect of street trading vehicles which operate in different local authority areas. Under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 for the purposes of a street trader’s licence application a mobile food business required a certificate of compliance from the food authority in which the application is being made. As a result mobile food vans had to be inspected separately by each authority in which the business wished to operate in order to obtain a certificate. This duplication of effort costs businesses and local authorities time and money.” An enlightened approach from our friends at the Scottish Parliament then, looking to assist businesses by cutting out this sort of duplication. I have clients who will be delighted at this, irked as they are that their mobile food van is passed with flying colours in licensing authority A, yet does not cut the mustard in licensing authority B.
The Consultation then is about introducing a national standard to underpin this approach and what those standards should be, as well as the technical processes behind this. The draft standards have been developed by The Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee (SFELC). Licensing practitioners will wish to note the requirement to “renew” the certificate of compliance after a certain period based on the type of business. There are four categories outlined. In all cases the certificate is required to be renewed annually with the exception of a business selling tea or coffee only, wrapped food only, raw fruit and vegetables only, wet fish only, or any combination of these; in which case the certificate can be renewed triennially. Note that this renewal period may or may not coincide with the life of the licence itself. Some authorities only issue annual licences. Others offer a licence which lasts 1, 2 or 3 years. Licence holders and their agents will do well to remember the different “renewal dates” which could apply to the licence and the certificate of compliance. There is also the introduction of a statutory form for the compliance certificate which includes a photograph of the mobile unit/kiosk/van. In addition to these process requirements, the consultation is primarily about minimum standards for the following:
- Water supply and ice
- Wash hand basins
- Food equipment and surfaces
- Cleaning and disinfection procedures
- Personal hygiene of staff
- Food protection/anti-contamination measures
- Pest Control
- Waste Control
- Temperature Control
- Minimum staff training requirements
- Food Safety management systems (HACCP Principles)
- Special requirements for the sale of Ice Cream
The consultation seeks views on whether the proposed standards are clear and meet safety requirements, whether anything should be added, and on the scheme generally. As this process will ultimately underpin every food street trader licence I urge affected businesses to respond to the consultation and make their views known.
Those seeking advice or assistance can contact me at email@example.com.