Approval of food businessesIf you own, or are planning to open, a business for which approval is required under EC 853/2004, you must apply to us at least 28 days before it is due to open.
There is no charge to do this 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.
|Apply for approval of a food business|
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You can also download an application form and send it by post to:
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
- Download an approval of a food business application form (Word - 185KB)
- Download guidance notes for approval of a food business application form (Word - 45KB)
Why do I have to apply for approval?Approval of product-specific establishments is required by law, under the Food Hygiene Northern Ireland Regulations 2006 and other European Commission regulations, including Regulation EC 853/2004, on the specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.
You can find out more about these regulations from the Food Standards Agency website
By law, 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 also 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.
Who must apply for approval?The food business operator must apply for approval with us. This is the person who is legally responsible for making sure the business meets food safety requirements.
Businesses which are subject to approval under the above regulations are those which produce any, or any combination, of the following items:
- mince meat
- meat preparations
- mechanically separated meat
- meat products
- live bivalve molluscs
- fishery products
- dairy products
- egg products
- frogs' legs
- 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.
When should I apply?You must apply for approval at least 28 days before your business is due to open. You must also notify us of any changes you make to your business at any later stage, such as:
- change of owner
- change of trading name
- change in the activities or volumes of production of the business
- change of address.
There are also exemptions for retail businesses which supply food of animal origin from their business to other retail businesses. However, these only apply if the business is deemed to be marginal, localised and 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.
Help and adviceBefore applying for approval, call our food safety team on 028 9027 0468 to discuss your application.
Setting up your own business? Get useful advice and tips from our business section