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Approval for a food business

Businesses which produce any, or any combination, of the following need approval:

  • mince meat
  • meat preparations
  • mechanically separated meat
  • meat products
  • live bivalve molluscs
  • fishery products
  • dairy products
  • egg products
  • frogs' legs
  • snails
  • edible co-products (including rendered animal fats and greaves, treated stomachs, bladders and intestines, gelatine and collagen)
  • also includes certain cold stores and wholesale markets.

All other businesses which fall under the Food Hygiene Northern Ireland Regulations 2006 and other European Commission regulations, including Regulation EC 853/2004, also require approval.

Apply for approval of a food business

If you own, or are planning to open, a business for which approval is required you must apply to us at least 28 days before it is due to open. 

There is no charge and you don't have to re-apply again each year, unless you make significant changes to your operation or change the address of your business.

If you have more than one business establishment, you must apply for approval of each one separately.

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    You can also download an application form and send it by post to: 

    Food Safety
    Cecil Ward Building 
    4-10 Linenhall Street 
    Belfast
    BT2 8BP

    We have also included guidance notes for part 8 of the approval application form which explain the documentation you must submit with your application before it can be processed.

    Why do I have to apply for approval?

    Approval of product-specific establishments is required by law.  You can find out more about these regulations from the Food Standards Agency website. 

    We must approve certain businesses that fall within the scope of these regulations. If the approval criteria are fully met, we issue the business with an approval number. Our staff notify the Food Standards Agency of all approved establishments, together with details of what activities they're approved for and their unique approval number.

    If your business doesn't fall under these regulations, but you own, or are planning to open, a business which prepares, sells or handles food, you must register with us instead.

    Are there any exemptions?


    In general, retail premises don't have to apply for approval, unless they are specifically mentioned in the regulations. 

    There are also exemptions for retail businesses which supply food of animal origin to other retail businesses if the business is marginal, localised or restricted.

    • Retail - refers to the handling or processing of food and its storage at the point of sale or delivery to the final consumer.
    • Marginal - described as being only a small part of the establishment's business and is generally taken to be up to a quarter of the business in terms of food and, in relation to fresh or processed meat means, up to two tonnes per week.
    • Localised - described as being in the immediate vicinity of the supplying establishment and is taken as either supplying businesses within the same county and neighbouring counties, or 30 miles from the boundary of the supplier's county.
    • Restricted - relates to wild game and wild game meat.

    If you feel your business may be exempt from the regulations, call our food safety team on 028 9027 0468 before submitting your application for approval.


    Contact us
    Environmental health
    028 9027 0468
    Food Safety
    Cecil Ward Building
    4-10 Linenhall Street
    Belfast
    BT2 8BP