Last updated: 20.06.24

Food Health and Safety in Hotels and B&Bs


Are you responsible for catering in a hotel? Are you thinking of opening a B&B or small hotel, or have you just done so? No matter your position, if you’re in a responsible role then one of your biggest considerations will naturally be the safety of your guests, and one of the biggest potential threats will always be foodborne illnesses and allergies. 

Cases of allergic reactions or things like food poisoning can range from minor inconveniences to severe issues that close down your business. As a result, you must think about food hygiene, just as any other business that serves food would do. 

In this article, we cover all the important information about food health and safety in a hotel, including what the law requires of you and what this will mean in practice.

The Importance of Hygiene in the Hotel Industry

Hygiene in the hotel industry is not only about the people who work in hospitality and catering, but also about the cleanliness of hotel or bed and breakfast premises. 

The key reason why it’s important to follow good hygiene practices when cooking and cleaning in a hotel is because it keeps guests safe. When a customer pays to stay at your hotel they are expecting to be cared for and not to be put at risk, and keeping rooms and common areas clean and serving food and drink that is safe to consume is essential for this.

Personal hygiene is also important because it impacts the overall cleanliness of the hotel environment, and in the kitchen helps to prevent cross-contamination. But staff in a hotel or B&B should also practise good personal hygiene because it creates a positive and professional image of their workplace, which is important in sustaining business.

What Are the Legal Requirements for a Bed and Breakfast in the UK?

Understanding the legal requirements for bed and breakfasts in the UK is the first step in implementing necessary food hygiene measures. First and foremost, remember that it’s your local authority that is the most important legal body when it comes to your standards of food hygiene. There are EU and UK regulations, but ultimately your local council will be the one that enforces these.

Rules can differ between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as by region, so it’s always worth checking with your council if you’re ever in doubt. They will have a dedicated department for dealing with food businesses, which you should be able to find online.

The main obligations you need to be aware of within official bed and breakfast rules are that you and any of your employees handling or serving food need to be appropriately trained, and you must be storing, preparing and serving food safely. The law doesn't explicitly detail how either of those things should be achieved, but the latter is entirely down to the discretion of the food safety inspectors in your area. They do of course work to similar standards across the country, and the government does publish documentation on what they expect.

When it comes to bed and breakfast or hotel kitchen hygiene training, there are no set rules, but you must make sure that you and your employees know what they’re doing. The best way to prove to any inspector that everyone has adequate training is to undertake an accredited certificate

There are three that are widely used across all food-related industries; the Level 1, 2 and 3 Food Hygiene certificates. Level 1 may be useful for serving staff who don’t directly deal with food and Level 2 is the standard for anyone who works in your kitchen. If you’re really looking to achieve the highest standards, Level 3 would be ideal for you as a business owner, or if you have senior managers that look after the kitchen on your behalf. 

You can find all of our food hygiene courses, including Levels 1, 2 and 3, in our food and drink training section.

What is a Food Hygiene Rating?

If you own a business that serves or distributes food to the public, it will have to undergo a food hygiene inspection to make sure that you’re following appropriate health and safety guidance and aren’t putting your guests or customers at risk.

Food hygiene inspectors and inspections tie in directly with a business’s food hygiene rating. This is something that most people are familiar with – it’s the rating from 0 to 5 stars given to any business that serves food to the public that must be publicly displayed. 

The food hygiene rating system is how inspectors will determine if you’re meeting your obligations under the law, and the factors in the next section will decide which rating you get. When you first open, an inspector will take a look at the premises and everything you’re doing, and then unannounced inspections will take place in the future.

How to Ensure Food Health and Safety in a Hotel or B&B

We’ve covered what the law expects you to do in hotel and B&B kitchens, why your hygiene rating is important, and what an inspection involves. But what does it all mean in practice? What are the things that you should be considering in order to meet and exceed basic food hygiene standards in your establishment?

Most businesses that serve food in any way will work to the four Cs, whether they’re aware of what they mean or not. These are a good way of covering the main points that you need to think about and essential parts of how to serve food in hotels.

For a full breakdown of this approach to hotel kitchen hygiene, read our detailed article about the 4 Principles of Food Safety. An overview of each of these areas is outlined below.


The first thing that probably comes to mind when food hygiene is mentioned is cleaning. If your B&B or small hotel is to get a good rating, you’ll need to ensure that everything in the building is clean, especially in the kitchen. 

Having a hygienic kitchen means cleaning the areas where food is stored, prepared and served. Anything that comes into contact with the food should be clean too, including all utensils and crockery.

Having a cleaning schedule is an effective way to ensure that all areas of a hotel or bed and breakfast are hygienic and that you have minimised the risk of germs. Make sure that all staff have been trained in the right cleaning procedures to follow as well so that you can trust your efforts to be effective.


Whether you’re just preparing a light continental breakfast for guests, or you offer half board too, there’s every chance that you’re going to be cooking on the premises, and you need to ensure that you’re doing this safely. The most important aspect of this is ensuring that food is cooked to the right temperature, but also that food is being stored correctly and then any food that is waiting to be served is kept at the right temperature as well so it doesn’t start developing bad bacteria.


At the opposite end to cooking is of course chilling. Proper refrigeration prevents harmful bacteria from growing or slows down its growth, so it’s hugely important that the right food is being kept at the right temperatures. Environmental health inspectors will want to see that this is happening and that you have a system in place, so it’s really important that all food products are stored in the right places in the fridge and that items are disposed of properly after they have been in the fridge past their expiry date.


The final C that relates to hotel kitchen hygiene is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination refers to the process of germs from one product or area being transferred to another through touch, which can increase the spread of germs and make the impact of something like uncooked food or a dirty piece of equipment more widespread.

You mustn’t let your hard work in cooking, cleaning and chilling go to waste by allowing foodstuffs to come into contact with one another when they shouldn’t. This is also very important when it comes to managing allergies, which is something you’ll have to do to keep your guests safe. Unintentional cross-contamination could lead to allergic reactions with serious health consequences, and in order to ensure your guests feel safe eating at your bed and breakfast or hotel, you should avoid allergen contamination as much as possible.


What qualifications do you need to run a bed and breakfast?

There are no specific bed and breakfast rules that say you need a particular qualification to do this kind of business. However, when it comes to food health and safety you will be inspected, and having food hygiene qualifications can help to pass these inspections by demonstrating that 

Do you need a food hygiene certificate to serve food to the public?

A food hygiene certificate is not a legal requirement to serve food to the public in a business like a bed and breakfast. However, it is a legal requirement to be able to demonstrate that anyone working in a food establishment has been given the appropriate health and safety training, and a food hygiene certificate is one of the best ways to do this.

How many different work areas can a hotel kitchen be divided into?

Hotel kitchens will be divided into different areas that are each dedicated to a different type of cuisine or cooking, and chefs with different specialities will work in each of these. The number of work areas in a hotel kitchen will vary depending on the kitchen’s size, but there can be up to eight sections in a working kitchen.


Nice bed and breakfasts and hotels are often categorised by the quality of customer service and the cleanliness and tidiness of the accommodation. Ensuring that you’re following food health and safety guidelines in your business will not only protect you from legal complications, but also keep your guests happy and satisfied, which will help your business to grow and last long-term.

One of the best ways to ensure good hotel kitchen hygiene is by providing staff with food hygiene training. At Virtual College, we offer a range of online food health and safety training courses that are perfect for keeping your staff up to date with the appropriate guidance.