Time is running out for butchers, grocers, supermarkets and other shops in England selling open raw meat and ready-to-eat food who have not yet applied for a butchers' licence.

The warning came from the Food Standards Agency who highlighted that shops only have two weeks to apply.
  • Failure to have a licence after 1 November will be a criminal offence.


  • The new licensing scheme is being introduced following the 1996 E.coli outbreak in Central Scotland in 1996 which caused the deaths of 17 people and made 500 more ill.


  • The scheme, and the hygiene measures it requires, have been put in place to help further protect the public from eating unsafe food, stored and sold in unsafe and unhygienic conditions with a view to minimising the risk of a similar outbreak happening again.


  • This is good news for consumers who are getting more protection and good news for butchers who will benefit from the increase in consumer confidence.


  • Time is running out for those retailers who need a butchers' licence. They have known since 4 April that licensing was coming and applications are needed by 4 October - just two weeks time. Shopkeepers will not be able to trade without a licence.


  • If they attempt to trade without a butchers' licence they will be breaking the law, and risk being prosecuted by their local council.
Butchers should apply to their local Environmental Health Department.

Notes to Editors
    The butchers' licensing scheme comes into force on 1 November 2000 in England.

  1. The Regulations were laid before Parliament on 4 April 2000 and require butchers, grocers, supermarkets and similar food outlets in England to be licensed if they sell open raw meat and ready-to-eat products from the same premises. The Regulations do not cover butchers handling raw meat only because of the considerable lower risk of any ready-to-eat foods being contaminated by the raw meat.


  2. Butchers' licences are issued by local Environmental Health Departments.

    Licensing is subject to enhanced hygiene conditions being in place, including compliance with existing food hygiene legislation, the operation of documented HACCP food safety management controls and enhanced staff hygiene training requirements.