Selling food for delivery
This page contains information for businesses who sell food for delivery, either without face-to-face contact with the consumer, or from a takeaway premises. Please read all the pages in this guide to ensure you have the information you need to run your food business.
Selling food without face to face contact with the consumer
When you sell food without face to face contact with the consumer, the food you sell is subject to UK law. The main law on this type of selling is the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
This law applies to all goods sold without face to face contact with the consumer, not just food.
Methods of selling include:
- online via your own website or an external site like Deliveroo
- text messaging
- phone calls
- interactive TV
- mail order
- via social media, for example Facebook Marketplace
As with any food business, you need to register your food business 28 days before opening. The environmental health department can also provide advice on compliance with food safety and food hygiene laws.
Selling food online
The below guidance provides information for businesses selling food online, which outlines legal requirements and safety considerations.
We have also produced a guide for local authorities when dealing with businesses selling food over the internet.
England, Northern Ireland and Wales
England, Northern Ireland and Wales
England, Northern Ireland and Wales
The law covers:
- information the seller needs to provide customers before making the sale
- rights to cancel the contract
- recovery of sums paid on cancellation
- restoration of goods by the consumer after cancellation
- delivery of food and drink to a consumer’s residence or workplace
If you are selling via the internet the UK Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 will also apply to your business.
More information about online and selling without face-to-face consumer contact can be found on the GOV.UK website.
EU references in FSA guidance documents
The FSA is updating all EU references, to accurately reflect the law now in force, in all new or amended guidance published since the 'Transition Period' ended at the end of 2020. In some circumstances it may not always be practicable for us to have all EU references updated at the point we publish new or amended guidance.
Other than in Northern Ireland, any references to EU Regulations in this guidance should be read as meaning retained EU law. You can access retained EU law via HM Government EU Exit Web Archive.
This should be read alongside any EU Exit legislation that was made to ensure retained EU law operates correctly in a UK context. EU Exit legislation is on legislation.gov.uk. In Northern Ireland, EU law will continue to apply in respect to the majority of food and feed hygiene and safety law, as listed in the Northern Ireland Protocol, and retained EU law will not apply to Northern Ireland in these circumstances.
Allergen information for food deliveries
Food businesses need to tell customers if food they provide contains any of the specified allergens as an ingredient. These 14 allergens have been chosen because they are the most common and dangerous.
Consumers may be allergic or intolerant to other ingredients, but you are only legally required to provide information for these 14 allergens.
The 14 allergens are: celery, cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats), crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters), eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs (such as mussels and oysters), mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million) and tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).
If food is sold online or by phone through distance selling, allergen information must be provided at two stages in the order process.
You must provide allergen information:
- before the purchase of the food is completed - this can be in writing (on a website, catalogue or menu) or orally (by phone)
- when the food is delivered - this can be in writing (allergen stickers on food or an enclosed copy of a menu) or orally (by delivery driver)
It is important for food businesses to take steps to avoid cross-contamination in food preparation. This protects customers with a food allergy.
There are a number of actions you can take to prevent cross-contamination with allergens in your food business. These include:
- cleaning utensils before each usage
- regularly washing hands thoroughly
- storing ingredients and prepared foods separately
- keeping ingredients that contain allergens separate from other ingredients
- takeaway meals should be labelled clearly so customers know which dishes are suitable for those with an allergy
Food delivery protocol
If you are delivering food orders, all food must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that it does not become unsafe or unfit to eat.
If you use a domestic vehicle (or a non-food industry business vehicle) to transport your food orders, there are particular hygiene requirements and vehicle specifications that should be met.
If you deliver food orders, it is important to select appropriate food-grade packaging.
For example, packaging materials may be required to be liquid or fat repellent to prevent leaks, or to stop paper becoming soaked through.
Without this type of packaging, chemical contaminants or germs could transfer onto the food. Well-fitting lids or closures will also minimise any hygiene or spillage risks.
Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported. The food may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag.
Food sent by post needs to be sent to consumers in packaging that is strong enough to remain intact. Once sent, the food should be delivered as quickly as possible, ideally overnight.
When the order is made, the consumer must be told when they can expect delivery.
Selling food for delivery checklist
Register your food business
You need to register your food business 28 days before opening.
Check you’re complying with the law
The main law on distance selling is the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. If you are selling via the internet the UK Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 will also apply to your business.
Provide customers with allergen information
Tell customers if food you provide contains any of the specified allergens as an ingredient. You must provide allergen information before the purchase of the food is completed and when the food is delivered.
Take steps to avoid cross-contamination with allergens.
Meet vehicle hygiene requirements
Check your transportation vehicle for food meets hygiene requirements and vehicle specifications.
Use appropriate packaging
Select appropriate food-grade packaging for deliveries. Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported, for example in a cool bag.
Food sent by post needs to be sent to consumers in packaging that is strong enough to remain intact.
Keep customers informed
The consumer must be told when they can expect delivery of their order. Food should be delivered as quickly as possible, ideally overnight.
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Published: 10 January 2023
Last updated: 5 April 2023