Get the latest hospitality news and inspiration straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our newsletter.

The law in your kitchen

There was a time when all chefs had to worry about was cooking good food and meeting the gross profit target on top of kitchen costs. These are still the two main objectives, but there is another concern creeping up the agenda: complying with the escalating amount of legislation being imposed on professional kitchens.

Some of it is strict legislation; some of it is wise backside covering; but much of it comes down to how kitchen equipment is bought, operated and disposed of. Here are some of the mandatory and advisory regulations every chef should be aware of:

CE marking
This is the small “CE” badge that all powered catering equipment sold in the UK and Europe must carry. It means that the manufacturer has certified that it meets European Union safety and, in some cases, performance standards. The EU standards are among the strictest in the world and are drawn up to ensure that kitchen staff have the least possible risk of injury.

Reputable brands of catering equipment bought from reputable dealers should always have the CE mark, but occasionally there is equipment offered for sale which looks the part but lacks that all-important CE badge.

The regulation recognises that many kitchens have well-maintained old equipment that predates the introduction of CE marking. That is why the legal requirement for kitchen equipment to be CE marked applies only to equipment manufactured after 1995.

Who can repair and service equipment?
The short answer is: not the odd-job man. When manufacturers sell kitchen equipment and offer a guarantee, it comes with conditions of servicing. Kitchen equipment is often very technical and needs a trained and accredited service engineer to keep it running and comply with the terms of the guarantee. If it breaks down and a chef calls on the guarantee for cost-free repairs, without evidence of accredited servicing the guarantee could be invalid.

When it comes to servicing and repairing kitchen equipment the law is clear. The only people who can install and maintain a gas-powered piece of kitchen equipment must be registered with the Government-run safety scheme, the Council for Registered Gas Installers, better known by its acronym of Corgi. To let someone work on gas kitchen equipment without that accreditation is dangerous and illegal.

To make things even more complicated, in addition to the core competence there are several modules, or levels of Corgi accreditation, that an engineer should have. For example, work on a combi-oven needs a different assessment from the one needed to install and service a fryer. It is important to check that anyone servicing gas has the right accreditation for the equipment that they will be working on.

Health and safety regulations
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) makes the rules covering the safety of kitchen staff using machines or equipment. Some are guidance notes; some are law; but to go against either can result in both prosecution and compensation claims.

The regulations are complex, but no kitchen manager can ignore them. They cover a range of concerns, including heat stress in the workplace and the safe way of emptying and cleaning fryers.

The HSE has a number of information sheets on its website explaining best practice and how to reduce the risk of litigation (www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/caterdex.htm).

Ventilation systems
The important issue here is interlocking. This means that where there is a ventilation hood over the cooking area, there is a gas supply cut-out mechanism between the cooking equipment and the ventilation hood. If the extraction fan should fail, the gas supply to the kitchen equipment will be automatically turned off.

Interlocking regulations are not retrospective, meaning that in most existing kitchens they are strongly recommended, but not mandatory. The rules say that any new kitchen using a fan-assisted extraction system must have this interlocking gas cut-out system. Also, if more than half of the appliances are replaced in existing kitchens, then an interlocking gas cut-out system must be fitted.

PUWER
Not a mis-spelling of power, PUWER stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. These regulations cover how chefs use kitchen equipment and are part of a European Directive which supplements regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The aim is for kitchen management to accept responsibility for the safe use of equipment.

PUWER regulations say that where there is machinery in the kitchen, management should have a risk assessment carried out, provide written instructions for operating it and give adequate training to all staff who are going to use it.

Under PUWER there is a legal obligation to maintain machinery properly, and if there is a service logbook with the equipment, it has to be filled in.

For more details of why managers need to be aware of PUWER visit www.hse.gov.uk/lau/lacs/90-3.htm.

WEEE
This is the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. It is a piece of EU legislation aimed at achieving a sustainable Europe through recycling electrical equipment. Its other aim is to reduce the amount of waste material that goes into landfill.

On 14 December 2005 Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks announced an immediate review of proposals for implementing the WEEE directive in the UK.

The decision reflects the continuing concerns expressed by businesses. It also highlights the Government’s aim to implement the directive in a way that maximises environmental benefits while minimising unnecessary costs to business. The review will be followed by a full consultation exercise this spring and then the Department of Trade and Industry will publish a revised timetable for implementation.

Historically, with catering equipment, recycling has not been a problem due to the high value of the scrap materials – mainly stainless steel – which means the equipment has a history of being recycled responsibly. CESA has been working hard to ensure that any new legislation does not increase the costs to commercial equipment purchasers unless it can be shown to increase the amount of equipment recycled.

The most visible aspect of equipment recycling is already in place, where a charge is made for fridge disposal. When an old fridge is replaced, the distributor or manufacturer selling the new fridge into the kitchen will have to pay the local council or a recycling company for the recycling cost, which will vary based on unit size.

View more information on WEEE here >>

WRAS
The aim of the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme is to ensure that water is not contaminated by fittings, equipment or products that are connected to the mains supply. Although WRAS regulations cover every industry, in commercial kitchens the main area of concern is the risk of contamination of pure drinking water through a backflow.

This is where dirty water, for whatever reason, accidentally pushes back into the main water supply rather than going out to drains. Every item of kitchen equipment that is connected to the mains must comply with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations.

Where badly contaminated water is discharged from an item of kitchen equipment such as a dishwasher, the protection will be provided by an antisyphonic backflow prevention device or an air gap.

Most new equipment will come with the necessary fitting to comply with WRAS, but it is wise to check. Only engineers with a qualification to connect equipment to the water supply should fit kitchen equipment that needs a supply of water.

See www.wras.co.uk for more details on water regulations.

For more information on kitchen equipment search the CESA website at www.cesa.org.uk

Start the discussion

Sign in to comment or register new account

Start the working day with

The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign up now for:

  • The latest exclusives from across the industry
  • Innovations, new openings, business news and practical advice
  • The latest product innovations and supplier offers
Sign up for free