Guidance on setting up a mobile food business

The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013

All food businesses, fixed or mobile, have to comply with the same regulations.

This page contains guidance specifically aimed at mobile traders but you must still comply with the Regulations. 

Vehicle construction

  • Design the layout to make cleaning as easy as possible. 
  • Floors should be finished with smooth non slip waterproof material with sealed edges to enable easy cleaning. 
  • Walls and ceilings must also be smooth, hardwearing and washable. 
  • Work surfaces should be hardwearing, washable and ideally made from stainless steel. 
  • Wooden cupboards or work surfaces should be sealed with gloss paint or varnish to make them washable


  • Equipment should be arranged so that the vehicle is not cramped. There should be adequate space to clean behind and underneath appliances. 
  • Keep all equipment clean and in a good state of repair. Cleaning should take place regularly and at the end of each trading period. 
  • All appliances should be properly fixed with areas next to cookers being heat resistant. 
  • You must have adequate equipment for keeping food at correct temperatures.


  • Frying ranges should be vented directly through the ceiling or wall behind the appliance. 
  • Vents discharging heat and fumes should be raised above the roof and should not let in water. 
  • Wall vents are required to allow fresh air to enter the vehicle but must be fly, dust and insect proof to avoid contamination of the food.

Food storage and preparation

  • There should be sufficient storage space for food supplies. Food should be kept in containers with tight fitting lids. 
  • Food should not be stored on the floor and should be protected from contamination like dirt and insects. 
  • High risk foods such as meat and dairy products must be kept in a fridge and not a cool box as these do not maintain adequate temperatures. 
  • Once cooked, food must be kept hot until served. Hot cabinets or a bain-marie must be provided for this purpose. 
  • Open food on display must be protected by a screen or cover to reduce the risk of contamination. 
  • Raw and cooked foods must be kept separate to avoid cross contamination. 
  • Any food that has not been sold at the end of trading should be disposed of. 
  • Food bags or wrapping must be stored in a clean cupboard or container. 
  • Newspaper cannot be used for wrapping food. 
  • If food is prepared at home the same standards of hygiene and cleanliness apply.

Washing facilities and personal hygiene

  • There must be separate washing facilities for both equipment and hands, with a supply of hot and cold water directly serving each sink. 
  • Hand washing is one of the most important steps in producing safe food, therefore food handlers must wash their hands regularly. 
  • Hands must always be washed before starting work, after handling raw foods, after visiting the toilet, handling money, smoking, eating and drinking. 
  • Soap and disposable towels must be provided for hand washing. 
  • Detergents and disinfectants must be used for cleaning the structure and equipment. 
  • Disposable cloths should be used for cleaning. Where re-usable cloths are used these should be regularly cleaned and sanitised.

Water supply

  • Water must be obtained from a drinking water supply, either from the mains or approved bottled source. 
  • Water containers must be regularly rinsed and cleaned with a food safe sanitiser.

Waste disposal

  • Waste water should be piped to sealed containers and not directly to the ground outside the vehicle. The containers must then be emptied into the foul drain. 
  • Bins with tight fitting lids and liners should be used inside the vehicle with a waste bin also provided outside for litter.

Health and Safety

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders

This type of gas is the most commonly used in mobile catering vans as a source of heating. However it can be highly explosive if a leak occurs in an enclosed space such as a mobile vehicle. Care must therefore be taken to avoid leaks of gas in the cooking area where there are naked flames.

Gas bottles must never be stored inside the vehicle unless in a specially constructed compartment.

Gas storage compartments should separate gas bottles from the inside of the vehicle by a wall which will be fire resistant for at least 30 minutes. The door to the compartment should be outside the vehicle with ventilation holes in the floor.

Gas cylinders sited outside should be stored on firm and level ground with cylinders secure in the vertical position, secured against unauthorised interference, located away from entrances/exits and circulation areas, or other possible sources of ignition.

Flexible hoses should be kept to a minimum. Where it is unavoidable to use flexible piping, it must be to the appropriate BS and where appropriate provided with mechanical protection to minimise damage. Flexible hoses must not be used in concealed locations, must be checked regularly for leaks (bubbles can be seen if joints and hose run with soapy water) and replaced if damaged or worn.

Gas piping from the bottles should be copper, properly jointed, supported and protected from damage.


  • It is recommended that gas appliances are fitted with a flame failure device which cuts off the gas if the flame goes out. 
  • Each appliance should also be fitted with a tap so that it can be independently disconnected from the gas supply.
  • All gas appliances must be installed and regularly serviced and maintained by a competent person. The food business operator must be familiar with operating the appliance and have plans of how to deal with problems such as leaks or a fire break out.

Electrical safety

  • All electrical equipment should be tested regularly by someone competent to carry out the test. Portable appliance testing (PAT) should be carried out on all portable appliances annually and six monthly for hand held devices.
  • Generators need to be protected from inclement weather but have good ventilation at all times. It must be sited away from the public and/or in a protective cage on a hard standing or firm ground. A suitable (CO2) Fire Extinguisher should be within 5m of a Generator

Fire precautions

  • A fire blanket and a dry powder extinguisher, suitable for fat or electrical fires, should be available inside the mobile vehicle. 
  • The exit from the vehicle should be kept free from obstruction and all staff that work in the unit should know what to do in an emergency.
  • The food business operator must carry out a fire risk Assessment.

Additional information and guidance

Registration and licences

Although a licence is not required to operate as a mobile food trader, you must register your food business.

Once you have registered the business you can commence trading. An inspection of the vehicle will take place but you do not need to wait for this prior to trading.

Trading areas

Some areas are restricted and you cannot trade in them, these are usually City Centres. You must contact the licensing department to gain permission to trade in restricted areas.