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Some meat and other food establishments require approval before they can start operating.

This applies mainly to establishments that handle Products of Animal Origin (POAO). Depending on the activities carried out, you may need to apply for approval from either the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or the local authority.

Establishments approved by the Food Standards Agency

In England, the following establishments must be approved by the Food Standards Agency:

  • slaughterhouses
  • cutting plants
  • game handling establishments
  • wholesale meat markets

Apply for approval by the Food Standards Agency

Establishments approved by local authorities

In England, the following establishments must be approved by the local authority:

General establishments
  • cold stores
  • re-wrapping and re-packaging establishments
Meat establishments
  • minced meat establishments
  • meat preparations establishments
  • mechanically separated meat establishments
  • meat products processing plants
  • rendered animal fats and greases processing plants
  • treated stomachs, bladders and intestines processing plants
  • gelatine processing plants
  • collagen processing plants
Fish and shellfish establishments
  • live bivalve molluscs (LBMs) establishments, including dispatch centres and purification centres
  • establishments working with fishery products using factory and freezing vessels, processing plants, fresh fishery products, auction halls, wholesale markets
Dairy establishments
  • collection centres of raw milk where it is cooled and filtered
  • processing plants treating, processing and/or wrapping of dairy products (milk or any milk-based product)
Egg and egg product establishments
  • packing centres - packing and grading eggs by quality and weight
  • processing plants - processing of egg products
  • liquid egg plants - handling of unprocessed egg contents after removal of shell

Can I start trading before receiving approval?

You cannot start trading before receiving an approval. You must not commence any business activity which requires approval unless you have received conditional or full approval for your proposed activity. If you start trading without approval, it is an offence which may lead to prosecution.


You do not need to be approved if you sell Products of Animal Origin (POAO) direct to the public only.

Approval may also not be required if you sell POAO to businesses such as retailers like caterers, pubs and restaurants, as long as all of the following applies:

  • There is a genuine retail element to your business (part of the business involves selling food directly to the final consumer)
  • Food is less than 25% of your trade
  • You do not handle any wild game meat products
  • You do not sell food to businesses that are located more than 30 miles outside the county boundary your business is located within
  • The amount/quantity of food that is sold to other businesses is less than 2 tonnes per week

There may also be exemptions relating to logistics and processed POAO.

If you are unsure if your business requires approval you must contact the local authority to discuss your query before you begin operation.

If a business is exempt from the requirements to be approved, it must be registered with the local authority. This should be done at least 28 days before starting a new food business, or taking over an existing business.

Please note that it is an offence not to be registered. You may be fined, imprisoned for up to 2 years, or both, if you run a food business without registering.

Approved food establishments in England and Wales

A full list of establishments in England and Wales approved to handle, prepare or produce products of animal origin for which requirements are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 is published by the Food Standards Agency.

If you are unsure as to whether you need to apply for Approval or require further advice about registration, please contact the Food Team at