Low risk level is a requirement for pop-up restaurants

As a rule, food preparation cannot be classified as an activity of a low risk level within the food sector: the cooling and storage of food always entails risks, if temperature management fails. One third of food poisonings could be avoided in Finland by ensuring that food is cooled quickly enough and stored at adequately low temperatures.

The Food Act allows private persons to engage in pop-up restaurant operation of a low risk level under certain conditions, and the municipal food control authorities need not be informed about this type of operation.

It has previously been possible to set up a pop-up restaurant mainly in connection with the Restaurant Day Event, on four days during the year. As the Restaurant Day will from now on only take place on one day of the year, this event will no longer be the defining factor for the operation and duration of pop-up restaurants.

However, pop-up restaurants play a significant role in maintaining a vibrant food culture. Because of this, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has specified what kind of pop-up restaurant operation is such where a food business notification to the municipal food control authorities is not required (Food Act 23/2006, Section 13, subsection 6, paragraph 2).

When is the risk level low?

The risk level of pop-up restaurant operation should be as low as possible.

Examples of food preparation that can be considered to have a low or reasonably low risk level

  • baking

  • preparation of ham or cheese sandwiches

  • preparation of soups, stews and casseroles for immediate serving.

Large-scale food preparation cannot be considered to be operation with a low or even reasonably low risk level.

The preparation or serving of the following dishes is not low-risk operation either:

  • steak tartare

  • medium-rare hamburgers

  • gravad (cured) fish

  • roe and sushi dishes.

The handling and preparation of these foods involves special risks. A notification is always required of pop-up restaurants serving dishes of this type to the food control authorities of the municipality where the pop-up restaurant operates, four weeks before the operation of the restaurant starts.

Good hygiene and raw materials of good quality

Extremely high hygiene and good hand hygiene are absolute requirements in the handling of foods. Never prepare food, if you are ill.

The raw materials used must be fresh and of a good quality.

  • All vegetables must be washed before use. Root vegetables shall be washed both before and after peeling.

  • All meat and fish that is served must be cooked.

  • The correct storage and serving temperatures of the foods must be taken into account, particularly as concerns perishable foods: hot foods must be served hot and cold foods cold.

  • Correct handling of foods eliminates the possibility of cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods. Foods that are eaten as such require extra care in handling. The utensils used in the preparation of food must be clean and free from bacteria and allergens.

The lowest possible risk level is achieved by preparing cooked food from fresh raw materials and serving it immediately after preparation.

Pop-up cannot be a livelihood

Pop-up restaurants may only be operated by private persons, so pop-up restaurant operation cannot be a livelihood.

The general requirements set out in the Food Act apply to operators of pop-up restaurants. They are always responsible for the safety of the foods they prepare and serve, even if no notification has been submitted to the municipal control authorities.

If asked, the pop-up restaurant operator must be able to tell the country of origin of the food, as well as whether the foods they serve contain any substances that cause allergy or intolerance.

A hygiene passport is not required of the operators of pop-up restaurants, but they are recommended to obtain one.

Twelve pop-up days during the calendar year

Evira's view is that a pop-up restaurant can be open on twelve days during a calendar year before the operator is required to submit a food establishment notification. Evira recommends that pop-up restaurants be operated for short periods of time, preferably only one day at a time, to facilitate the management of food safety.

Evira recommends that

  • a pop-up restaurant is clearly indicated as such to customers

  • the name of the person responsible for operation is displayed to the customers.

If considered necessary, the municipal food control officers can inspect also pop-up restaurants to verify that food safety and a good hygiene level are observed, and to prevent food poisonings.

Operators of pop-up restaurants may need advice also on other required notifications and permits concerning e.g. the location of the restaurant, selling products other than food, carrying out a livelihood, or taxation. The operators should contact the appropriate authorities with their inquiries, such as the municipality or the tax authorities.

For more information, please contact: 
Pirjo Korpela, tel. +358 50 386 8429, pirjo.korpela@evira.fi