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Guidance for selling ready meals or other food to be reheated

Guidance for selling ready meals or other food to be reheated

Guidance and information for food businesses that want to start selling chilled or frozen food for customers to reheat or cook at home.

Providing food for reheating carries more safety risks than providing food hot or cold, because of the extra cooling, chilling or freezing, and the different storage methods needed.

There is also specific information that you must provide about the food.

If you’re a food business that normally sells hot or cold food, and you want to start selling chilled or frozen food for customers to reheat, you should contact us. 

We’ll need to talk to you about your plans and how you’ll make, store and sell or deliver the food safely.

Examples of businesses this applies to:

  • a pub or café that normally prepares meals to serve  to customers on the premises, and now want to sell food packaged for customers to store chilled or frozen, to cook or reheat at home
  • a home caterer that normally sells food from a market stall, and now want to sell food prepared at home and packaged for customers to store chilled or frozen, to cook or reheat at home

You must apply to become an approved food business, if you are not one already, if the food:

  • will be sold to other businesses rather than directly to the customer, and
  • contains products of animal origin, such as meat, eggs, dairy, honey or gelatine

Food safety advice

We’ll give you advice on food safety when you contact us.

The main things you’ll need to consider are:

Information you must provide about the food 

When you sell food for customers to reheat or cook at home, you must always give:

  • the name of the food
  • information about any allergens it contains
  • instructions for cooking, reheating, freezing and defrosting the food, if the food would not be safe to eat if these weren’t followed

You can give this information on a label on the food or on a notice.

If the food for reheating is prepacked and not sold directly to the customer, you must also give the following information:

  • the name of the food
  • a short description of the food
  • a legal or customary name if it has one
  • whether the food is supplied frozen or chilled
  • a full list of ingredients, with 14 specified allergens clearly shown
  • instructions for cooking, reheating, freezing and defrosting the food
  • storage instructions
  • the product’s weight, volume or quantity
  • a quantitative ingredient declaration (QUID) for the main ingredients in the dish
  • full nutrition information

For distance sales, for example food bought online or over the phone, you must make this information available at the point of delivery, for example on a label or a leaflet and by other appropriate means such as on your website, on promotional material or over the phone.

The rules are slightly different for direct sales, for example when you sell food directly to the customer from the place you make the food, a stall or a vehicle. Email trading.standards@bristol.gov.uk for information.