Mobile & Outdoor Catering
Many businesses cater outside or use a vehicle
for preparing and serving food. These businesses often provide food
at outdoor events, such as markets or festivals, or distribute food
to the workplace or doorstep. They include hotdog vendors,
ice-cream vans, burger vans and any other business that sells hot
or cold food, usually intended for immediate consumption.
As with any food business, mobile and outside
caterers must be registered (link to registration page) as a food
business. These businesses must register with the Local Authority
where the main place of business is located and/or the vehicle is
The Environmental Health Department of the
home authority (where the business is registered) will inspect the
unit on a regular basis. Occasionally officers will inspect
businesses which trade in the Borough, but are registered
Health and Safety
Owners of these businesses must have regard to
the health and safety of themselves, visitors and members of the
public. These mobile units are often confined spaces and therefore
present a hazard because of restricted movement.
Owners must carry out risk assessments of
the tasks carried out in the unit. These must include consideration
of safety measures for the catering operations, and the driving of
any vehicles to and from the site. It will be necessary for drivers
to carry out basic daily and weekly checks, and these should be
documented. Routine maintenance such as servicing and MOTs should
also be programmed.
Many outdoor catering units use liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG) and there are specific controls relating to
- The cylinders must be located securely on the
outside of the vehicle, or within a purpose built housing vented
- All pipework must be copper or stainless
steel tubing, or small lengths of rubber hose of less than 0.5
- The vehicle must be permanently
- The appliances must be in good condition,
meet appropriate standards, and be securely fixed to prevent
movement if used in a vehicle.
- Staff and others who may be responsible for
the unit must be fully trained in the use of the systems and
- Safety instructions must be displayed.
- The number of gas cylinders stored at the
home base should be kept to a minimum.
- All mobile units should be provided with a
dry powder fire extinguisher.
If you trade in the street you may require a
licence. The Commercial Regulation team is consulted by the
Licensing Service whenever a street trading licence application or
renewal is received. The officer who looks at the application will
normally speak to the owner of the vehicle and may suggest
conditions to be added to the licence.
Institute of Environmental Health has produced a guidance
document for Outdoor and Mobile caterers which can be downloaded