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Vending Machines

What legislation applies to vending machine operators? 

Vending machine operators are considered a food business and must therefore comply with the food hygiene rules set out in Regulation 852/2004/EC on the hygiene of foodstuffs.

What are the hygiene rules that apply to vending machines? 

The following rules apply specifically to vending machines:

  • The vending machines must be sited, designed and constructed so as to avoid the risk of contamination of the food, in particular, by animals and pests. They must be kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition.
  • Surfaces in contact with food must be in sound condition and be easy to clean and, where necessary, to disinfect. This requires the use of smooth, washable, corrosion-resistant and non-toxic materials, unless it can be shown that other materials are appropriate.
  • Adequate facilities and/or arrangements for maintaining and monitoring suitable food temperature conditions must be available, where necessary.
  • Foods must not be at risk of contamination, in so far as is reasonably practicable.

As a vending machine operator, do I need to register as a food business? 

Yes. Vending machine operators are considered food business operators and must therefore register with their local environmental health office. Find contact details for your local office

Does the legislation on traceability apply to vending machines? 

Yes, all food business operators must have a traceability system in place which allows them to trace one step back and one step forward. This means that you will need to have a list of supplier names, their addresses, nature of the products they supply and the date of each transaction delivery. You will then need a list of businesses to which you supply vended food, their names, addresses, nature of the products you supply to them and the date of transaction/delivery. The more detailed the system the better, as it will allow for speedier action in the event of a product being recalled or withdrawn.

Find more information on traceability in our Guidance Note No. 10 – Product Recall and Traceability

Do I need to have a HACCP system? 

All food business operators are required by law to have a procedure or procedures in place, based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). The type of system depends on the nature of the business, and the level of risk associated with the business and the products. You can find more information on the type of system that would suit your business in our Guidance Note No. 11 – Assessment of HACCP Compliance (Revision 2). You should also discuss this with your environmental health officer.

Do staff stocking vending machines need to be trained in food safety? 

Yes, anyone working with, or handling food, must be supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters corresponding to the level of their work activity. The type of training required would depend on the type of food, i.e., there would be different requirements for someone dealing with food that requires refrigeration, where there is a greater risk of something going wrong, than someone stocking a vending machine with chocolate bars or crisps.

Get more information on training and your legal requirements

If I have vending machines on my premises, who is responsible for the safety of the food in the machines – the vending machine operator or the business where they are located? 

The vending machine operator is ultimately responsible for the safety of the food in the vending machines provided that they are responsible for stock management. If your business fills the vending machine then you have partial responsibility for food safety.

Where can I find more information on starting a food business?  

Our website has comprehensive information on starting a food business.