Complying with restaurant hygiene regulations and standards

Highly regulated, the restaurant sector is governed by a number of health and safety rules. Here, we take a look the hygiene rules and other standards you need to know as a restaurant owner.

What hygiene legislation applies to restaurants?

The following outlines the main hygiene principles to which you must adhere in your restaurant. They concern your premises, equipment, staff, food storage and food consumption. 

Food storage and preservation

One of the key requirements of food safety is respecting the cold chain. 

This means continuously maintaining the storage temperatures of perishable foodstuffs as indicated on the food label. This applies in particular to fish, shellfish, fresh produce, ready meals, raw meat, fresh dairy products, eggs, desserts, ice cream, and fruit and vegetables.

Respecting the cold chain is essential for preserving the nutritional and organoleptic properties of food and for preventing the development of micro-organisms and germs that can cause food poisoning.

The temperature of refrigerators, freezers and cold rooms must be checked regularly to limit any risk of breaking the cold chain. 

The rules for freezing food should be meticulously followed: 

  • Never refreeze a product that has been defrosted
  • Defrost products in a refrigerator, not at room temperature 
  • Do not freeze any item that should be conserved above 0 degrees.

It is also important to respect the hot chain by cooking food to a minimum of 63°C.

Concerning food packaging, storage and handling, you should also: 

  • Disinfect the packaging materials used
  • Store raw goods in airtight containers
  • Store raw goods and processed foods in two different refrigerators
  • Clean worktops and utensils at the end of the day
  • Handle loose food with tongs when serving in the dining room
  • Not place personal items, such as telephones, on work surfaces
  • Not place items containing food on the floor
  • Prevent and control pests (rats, flying insects, crawling insects, etc.).

Premises and equipment

Other standards covering the layout of the premises and kitchen fittings and equipment should be taken into account:

  • Clean working zones (storage areas, worktops, etc.) must be separated from dirty working zones (bins, dishwashing area, etc.). 
  • The premises must offer sanitary facilities for both staff and customers (with washbasin and hand soap).
  • Toilets must not overlook the kitchen or the food storage areas.
  • The premises should be laid out in such a way as to facilitate regular maintenance and cleaning and prevent soiling, mould growth and pest contamination. 
  • The premises must be regularly cleaned and maintained.
  • Cleaning and maintenance products must be stored separately, in a cupboard or in an allocated room.
  • The restaurant should be equipped with the following:
    - Grease trap
    - Enamel or stainless steel utensils (unfinished wooden utensils are not recommended)
    - Good lighting in the kitchen
    - Cold room with a thermometer and a temperature control system
    - Separate ventilation system for clean and dirty zones
    - In the kitchen, separate sinks for hand washing and vegetable washing (preferably without manual operation)
    - Hand dryers or disposable paper towels
    - Floor drains for evacuating water used to wash floors
    - Staff changing rooms near workstations if a uniform is required
    - Equipment complying with the LERPAC or NF food hygiene notice (preferably).

Waste management

The following waste management hygiene rules should be respected in restaurants:

  • Do not accumulate food waste
  • Empty bins regularly
  • Use closed bins that can be opened with a pedal, and clean them regularly
  • Ensure that access to the bin storage areas does not require passing through the kitchen or dining room
  • Provide suitable equipment for staff for entering the bin storage area (including gloves).

Staff hygiene rules

Restaurant staff must also observe certain hygiene rules:

  • Wear clean clothes. In the kitchen, wear a hairnet and gloves when preparing food.
  • Wash hands when returning to work, after handling waste, raw materials or dairy products and after having used the bathroom. 

Remember that at least one member of staff must have undergone HACCP hygiene training (to find out more, see our article: Mandatory training required to open a restaurant). 

→ It is important to start finding out about the regulations in force before opening your restaurant, at the market study stage.

What happens during a hygiene inspection?

All restaurants undergo a number of hygiene inspections designed to check compliance with food health and safety regulations. 

The first inspection takes place after a restaurant has opened (you will be notified beforehand). Thereafter, inspections are carried out without warning or on a regular basis. 

During the inspection, you must present the following documents to the hygiene inspector:

  • Documents relating to:
  • Staff training and employee information
  • Employee medical certificates of aptitude (issued by an occupational health professional)
  • Microbiological analysis
  • Cleaning products used
  • Contact details of suppliers.

You should also be aware that a customer can report a breach of hygiene to the Fraud Control. 

Make sure that you respect hygiene standards in your restaurant at all times. In the event of an infringement, sanctions will be applied. These can range from a simple warning to a fine or even the closure of your restaurant if there is a risk to customer health. 

To find out what you need to do before opening or taking over a restaurant, see our article on the subject.

What other standards must be adhered to in a restaurant?

As well as hygiene regulations, other standards relating to safety, accessibility, signage and the broadcasting of music must be respected in the restaurant industry:

  • Your premises must comply with accessibility regulations for disabled persons (these can be consulted on the website). 
  • You must comply with safety regulations: alarm and evacuation systems in the event of a fire (smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.), sufficient lighting, cooking and heating equipment that meets standards, etc.

To find out more about the specific regulations for your restaurant, contact the town hall or prefecture of the department in which your restaurant is located.

  • If you play music in your restaurant, you will need to obtain authorisation from SACEM.
  • If you sell animal or animal-origin foodstuffs, you must make a declaration to the DDPP (departmental directorate for the protection of populations).
  • You must comply with the statutory signage regulations covering prices, the origin of meat, beverages, the category of licence obtained to sell alcohol, no-smoking signs, the regulations on the repression of public drunkenness and the protection of minors.
  • You must respect the opening hours set by prefectural decree (contact the prefecture of the department in which your restaurant is located).

Also see: 

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