Who is NCASS?
The National Caterers Association (NCASS) is a specialist organisation for independent food and drink businesses in the UK. We have been providing support to help our members be safe, legal and profitable for over thirty years. We recognise that running an independent food / drink business is not easy, and we are here to help.
Our members and how we support them
Our members consist of a huge variety of independent hospitality businesses across the food and drink sector, covering all niches, cuisines and catering types. We support them by assisting in matters of compliance, connecting them with trading opportunities, providing useful and relevant resources, keeping them up to date with applicable industry updates and much more. Also, we regularly speak and conduct interviews with our members, highlighting their stories, successes and challenges, helping to build up a community among our members and share inspiration.
How we work with EHOs
We work closely with our primary authority partners at the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Monmouthshire County Council who sense check our new initiatives and resources and provide us with an up-to-date insight into regulatory matters. They help us to see things from an EHO and Local Authority perspective.
We support EHOs with requests for advice. We are frequently asked to provide our insight in areas where we have expertise such as the street food and outdoor event sectors, how to set up and establish a successful catering business and mobile LPG safety. We do this with individual Local Authorities or at wider group meetings and workshops. For example through the meeting events arranged by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Why NCASS is useful to EHOs
We ultimately both want the same things – safe, well run and successful food businesses and growth in our local economies.
We respect the fact that EHOs give great advice to businesses and have a wealth of expertise and knowledge. But we also recognise that their time is more and more stretched, with an ever-growing list of priorities. We can support with some of the advice and guidance that would normally be given by EHOs – members can contact us instead for advice on day-to-day regulatory matters. We can walk members through how to set up a food safety management system, risk assessments and how to undertake training for themselves and their staff. We have the templates and resources on hand and the people to help here, leaving EHOs to focus on the more pressing enforcement matters.
EHOs will regularly encounter businesses who want more support and guidance then they may have the time to give, or are looking for more detailed and comprehensive resources then those that they have freely available. NCASS can fill that gap and provide that solution.
As well as finding solutions for businesses we are also looking for ways to support EHOs and their Local Authorities – our training courses are open to all. We have expertise in mobile LPG safety and can support with focused training and workshops. We also offer our NCASS Connect system to support with information sharing and remote interventions with members. Our Safety Management System and risk assessment templates are also available to view on the Connect system (linked below) – to support EHOs with their inspection process and familiarisation with member resources. They may find our Gas Safety and Electrical Safety checklist useful!
Our in-house Environmental Health Specialist – about Fiona
Fiona West joined us in August 2022 after 15 years local authority service as an EHO. Fiona spearheads our ambition to link up with EHOs from across the UK and coordinate our wider engagement. Please feel free to get in touch with her at: [email protected]
Environmental Health Partnerships
We are partnering with independent consultant EHOs across the UK, so that our members and the organisations that we work with can have access to bespoke and locally based environmental health consultation services.
If you would like to learn more about our partnership consultation agreements and how we can work with you then please contact Fiona West, our Environmental Health Specialist, [email protected], who will be glad to discuss these opportunities and arrangements further.
To support the inspection process we have made the NCASS safety management system and template risk assessment available for EHOs to view via the NCASS Connect system. Simply log into Connect and select the tab titled ‘NCASS Safety Management System’.
Connect is our primary authority register and can be used to check if a business is an NCASS member and is therefore included in the partnership scheme. It can be used to search for members and view their compliance documentation. Connect is a really handy tool that can support with the official controls undertaken by EHOs e.g. remote interventions, and enable information sharing.
So if you are an EHO and do not already have an account please join today at NCASS Connect.
NCASS Safety Management System
In October 2022 we launched our new Safety Management System (SMS). Approved by our Primary Authorities (Royal Borough of Greenwich & Monmouthshire Council), our Safety Management System is an all in one, comprehensive system designed to assist food and drink businesses to comply with Food Safety and Hygiene, Health and Safety and Fire Safety requirements. This is included in all memberships and features a Daily Diary and bespoke risk assessments.
We have updated and improved the risk assessment templates for food safety. Allergen controls have now been included at each stage of food processing to support the development of an allergen management system.
The Health & Safety and fire safety risk assessments are now more detailed. Whilst this does increase the completion time for members, it helps them to create bespoke risk assessments that are specific to their individual business needs. Moreover, we strongly advise members to check and clarify their completed risk assessments to ensure that it relates to what they do in practice to keep their business, customers and staff safe. We have provided clear instructions for members on how to complete the process of creating risk assessments within the SMS folder and on the Member’s Dashboard.
Completed risk assessments are all stored digitally on the Member’s Dashboard or can be printed and stored in the relevant section in their SMS.
To check their food safety assessments and compliance with HACCP principles during routine food safety inspections, please ask to see the members’ food safety risk assessments.
EHOs can view the SMS and risk assessments via NCASS Connect .
NCASS Gas Engineer Partnership
To improve members access to qualified gas engineers and therefore improve LPG safety across the sector, we have established NCASS approved Gas Engineer Partners (GEPs). Our GEPs are trusted engineers who carry out gas installations and safety checks correctly. NCASS GEPs come with a raft of benefits and clear processes. They are Gas Safe engineers who work to the correct interpretations and high standards of LPG use and an agreed code of conduct. NCASS will allocate a GEP to our members based on their location, so they can be their first point of contact for anything related to the use of LPG. NCASS will assess and interview all incoming Gas Engineer Partners to make sure they offer and work to the correct high standards and interpretations of LPG use.
We have worked with gas experts and suppliers on LPG safety for many years now, however, as the sector grows and businesses diversify, it is now more important than ever for our sector to take steps to further improve LPG safety through self-governance.
We have a gas safety consultant who has extensive experience in mobile LPG, who is available to support with training local authority officers and enabling CPD certified gas safety workshops with a focus on mobile LPG. If you would like to learn more about these services or make arrangements to enable better mobile LPG and gas safety awareness within your authority, then please contact Fiona West.
Our products and services
We offer specialist underwritten insurance to provide caterers with cover specifically tailored to suit individual business needs.
We offer a wide range of online training courses that have all been accredited by our primary authority partners and are designed to teach our members practical skills.
The most recent addition to our range of training courses is our new HACCP for Catering course. This provides a general grounding in food safety management and the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), with a particular focus on relevant practical tips for the application of HACCP in small independent food businesses as opposed to large scale food manufacturers.
We are also in the process of developing a new LPG safety course titled ‘Safe Use of LPG’. This course focusses on the installation of LPG in mobile and outside catering and we hope to launch this later in the Summer. It is being developed with the support of our Gas Safety. This course will outline the key things to check when setting up and using LPG appliances and cylinders, it will provide examples of safe and unsafe practices as well as advice and guidance to support the practical application of gas safety regulations. As well as helping mobile catering businesses, we believe that this course will be useful to event organisers and Local Authority officers who are involved in checking and regulating mobile businesses e.g.EHOs, market managers, park managers and their teams. The course will help to make much needed improvements to LPG safety.
We provide a plethora of resources designed to assist our members in the running of their businesses, such as regular guides that deal with topical issues in the world of catering and how caterers can navigate them.
Our wider industry work – examples of our association work, government projects, consultations
- We work with the government to act as a voice for small and independent businesses and aim to feed into policies, as with the most recent Hospitality Strategy update
- We have collaborated with the government’s Department of Business (BEIS) looking at the regeneration of high streets through harnessing the power of independent hospitality, such as the Sefton project.
- We are involved with projects such as Future Festival Tools that seek to implement proficient sustainability measures within the events section.
- Our Director Mark Laurie represents catering and hospitality at the Events Industry Forum (EIF), which produces the Purple Guide. NCASS are responsible for the food water and gas sections of the guide which are currently under review.
- We’re committed to working to help the sector towards net zero. We sit on the steering group of Powerful Thinking, who work on sustainable initiative Festival Vision: 2025.
- Working with A Greener Festivaland Fareshare we developed the 8th Plate food salvage scheme to divert edible food from landfill to homeless and other charities.
- We attend the FSA Food Hygiene Steering Group and the HSE’s Hospitality Industry liaison forum.