Guidelines for the storage and sale of ice cream: What you need to know

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re thinking of becoming an ice cream vendor.

Oh, and what could be more satisfying than serving up delicious, iced treats to everyone?

Plus, unlike other parts of the food sector, it appears on the surface to be a less complicated product to store and sell.  Doesn’t it?

Well, it might not be as straightforward as you’d think, so arming yourself with the facts before you launch your new enterprise is definitely the way to go.

There are various ways you might want to set up in the ice cream business, from a traditional ice cream van to a retro-inspired ice cream parlour at the seaside, or maybe at a farm shop or restaurant.

Whatever shape your business takes, there are rules and regulations to consider before you make it happen.

If you’re ready to take the next step, we’ll give you the lowdown on the paperwork you’ll need to complete as well share ice cream storage guidelines, so that you can be fully prepared before you start.

Do you need a license to sell ice cream in the UK?

Food and drink in the UK are highly regulated so that consumers can be assured that products are safe and authentic, that is they are what it is claimed they are.

Everything from listing ingredients on the packaging, to rules for storing foodstuff in a certain way, are intended to ensure that people are not at risk of damaging their health.

This also means that if you intend to whip up some creamy home-made ice cream and sell it from a shop or van, you need to follow established procedures.


Let’s start with the paperwork you need to ensure that you’re covered when selling ice cream.

You’ll definitely need a licence, but this is not a one-size-fits-all document.

In fact, the licence you need depends upon how you plan to sell your product.

For example, if you decide to serve ice cream from a bike or van on the street, from a kiosk or moveable stall, then you’ll require a street trader’s licence.

However, if you plan to sell your ices at say, a farmer’s market then you’ll need to apply for a market trader’s licence.

And if you’re are opening an ice cream parlour with chairs and tables on the pavement, you’ll require a street trader’s licence.

It’s possible to avoid the trader’s licence if you’re selling on private land, although of course you must ensure you have the landowner’s permission to do so.

To make things a little more complicated, each local council has different rules, so your first move should be to check out their website or get in touch with them to work out exactly which licences you will need.

Key takeaways about licences

  • If you are trading in the street, or even have tables outside your premises, you’ll need a street trading licence
  • Get in touch with your local council to identify which licence you need. You may be eligible for a pedlar’s certificate which exempts you from having a street trading licence, but you must check this
  • Don’t forget to find out what the fees for the licence will be
  • Licences can be granted by the council, but they can also be refused, and be aware there could be a waiting list which will delay the setting up of your business
  • Be mindful that the licence needs to be renewed regularly and the costs for this should be factored into your business plan
  • If you don’t comply with the conditions of your licence (for example, if you don’t adhere to the trading times set by the council) then your licence could be withdrawn or suspended. Trade without any licence at all and you could face a fine of up to £1,000

How to apply for a licence

Contact your local council

This should be the council in the area where you wish to sell your ice cream

Have details to hand

You need to tell them where you intend to sell your ice cream and the times you intend to sell it

Fees and identification

You may need to pay a fee and supply a photograph

Your registration needs to be made at least 28 days before you start trading, detailing where the business is operated from.

Registration is free, and every registration will be accepted. The consequences of not registering your business can be severe, as not only will you be fined, you could even receive a custodial sentence.

For more information about registering your ice cream business, visit:

You must also

Ensure your ice cream business does not do any harm to your customers and those who work for you.

It’s paramount your business does not endanger the health of others, which is why your ice cream company needs to comply with health and safety law.

If you employ people, you are responsible for managing the health and safety in your business so you need a risk assessment in place.

You can also expect a visit from an environmental health inspector at some point to ensure that you are complying with all the rules, including ice cream storage guidelines.

You can find out more about food inspections by following the link here.

Where can you sell your ice cream?

Believe it or not, but there are rules on where you can sell your ice cream.

For example, if you’re planning to sell it from a van, then you can’t stop outside a playground or a school.

Each local authority has its own guidelines so again, it is best to contact them if you are in doubt.

Rules about chimes

If you wish to vend from a traditional ice cream van, then you’ll probably want to let people know you’re in the neighbourhood by using chimes.

Again, the regulations are strict.

For example, you can’t play them more than once every couple of hours in the same street. They can only be played once when approaching an area, and only once at the stopping point.

There must be a two-minute lapse between each play.

Chimes can’t be louder than 80 decibels, are not to be played in the sight of another van, and should not last longer than 12 seconds.

It’s prohibited to sound chimes within 50m of certain places such as a hospital, a school during school hours, and churches and other places of worship on a Sunday.

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There are two types of insurance that you should consider getting.

One is employer’s liability insurance which you will need if you are hiring staff, and public liability insurance which will indemnify you against a member of the public getting ill, or injured, and covers you if their property is damaged by something connected with your business.

Think anything from allergic reactions to food poisoning.

Employment regulations

This is for those who will be employing staff.

You need to be aware of:

  • The minimum wage
  • Employment Rights Act
  • Health and safety obligations
  • Employer’s liability insurance

Hygiene requirements: How ice cream should be stored

You’ve spent all that time concocting mouth-watering ice cream flavours to tempt customers, but if you don’t store your goodies correctly then your hard work could go to waste if the product ends up too soft or too hard, has melted and refrozen, or has been affected by freezer burn.

Worse still is if it becomes contaminated with bacteria and becomes a serious health hazard.

Storage is important on all these levels, as your ice cream needs to look and taste as good as it did when you first scooped it into your containers.

Storing your ice cream

Food hygiene regulations are there for a purpose – to ensure that the products you sell are safe for your customers to eat.

We’ve all seen stories in the press about people who have become seriously ill as a result of food poisoning or an allergic reaction, so a food management system is absolutely necessary.

The Food Standards Agency specifies that every business selling food needs a food management system based upon what they refer to as Hazard Analysis and Critical Point (HACCP).

Your HACCP all depends upon the product you’re selling.

If you make ice cream yourself, the HACCP will be more in-depth than if you buy packaged products.

One important aspect of food management is the containers you use to store ice cream.

They should be food grade standard, so they do not shatter when they’re chilled at the optimum temperature for ice cream, which is around 18°C (0°F).

The material they’re manufactured from mustn’t contain residues which can contaminate the ice cream (this is why it’s unwise to use containers made from recycled plastics for the purpose of storing ice cream).

For ice cream, you need packaging that complies with food safety standards.

Take a look at Venturepak’s range of containers specifically designed for the purpose of storing ice cream and you’ll see they’re made to the highest standards, so that your product is at minimum risk of contamination, or freezer burn.

Our ice cream containers have lids that can be securely fastened and are airtight (as exposure to oxygen is a surefire way to degrade your frozen creations).

We also supply containers in a range of sizes so that you can accommodate the demands of your potential customers.

Be aware that food businesses that handle animal products including dairy, are under stricter controls as they are susceptible to contamination.

Maintaining your freezer

Your containers should be freezer-safe and made from materials which can deal with the low temperatures required to maintain the quality of your ice cream.

Freezers themselves can be inconsistent and vary in temperature and stability.

If they’re too warm, or too cold, the consistency of your ice cream will be affected.

Also, as freezers are opened and closed the temperatures fluctuate, which will also have an impact on your product.

That’s why ice cream should never be stored in the front or door compartments of a freezer.

You may invest in a display freezer, but don’t assume that this will be different from any other freezer, so ensure that it is regularly checked to ensure that it’s the optimum temperature for ice cream (which is around 18°C or 0°F).

One way to avoid the dangers of your ice cream being affected by people opening and closing the freezer is to place the most popular items in the display freezer.

They will sell more quickly and be affected less by the fluctuations in temperatures. You can then place most of your other stock in your storage freezer and restock the display one when required

If you’re planning to sell home-made ice cream, and not the bought-in variety, then take care to store it in a way so that it’s unaffected by the pungent odours of other produce such as fish and cheese.

This is because dairy products can soak up strong smells if stored close by and be ruined as a consequence.

Of course, the correct kind of storage container should help when it comes to ensuring your ice cream remains uncontaminated by the smells from other foodstuffs, but it’s best to be sure that this will not happen by storing it in a separate section.

Or even a different freezer altogether.

Want to find out more about our range of ice cream containers and how you can keep your products in tip top condition?

Browse our product range here