New food business & Food safety advice

Starting up a food business

If you are thinking of setting up a food business, there is a lot to consider before you start. The basic requirements are the same for all businesses, whether you are catering from home, a large manufactuer, mobile food van or a small take away or restaurant.

Plan ahead

You should seek advice from your local authority. You may need to speak with:

  • Food and safety - for food hygiene or health and safety
  • Trading standards - for the description of food you sell if it is made or prepared onsite, or if you are weighing and selling food
  • Licensing - if your premises requires a license for such things as the sale of alcohol, street trading or opening late at night
  • Planning - to make sure your premise has the correct business use for the type of food operations intended.

Registration

You are required to register your business with the Environmental Health department at the local authority where the business is based. You should register 28 days before opening up you business - for mobile food vendors this will be the authority where your vehicle is stored. Registration is free. Once you register, an officer will contact you to discuss your business and if necessary arrange a visit to make sure everything is safe. You can register your food business on the website.

Premises, equipment and cleaning

The food premises must be in good condition and kept clean. You must make sure you have adequate hand washing facilities, with a designated wash hand basin with soap, hot and cold water and hygienic hand drying facilities.

Changing facilities, where necessary, should be provided, and adequate lighting and ventilation.

You must have adequate number of refrigerators and freezers for storing food. Food equipment and surfaces must also be kept in good condition and effectively clean, and where necessary disinfected on a regular basis.

You need to make sure you do not cross contaminate food, so colour coded equipment is strongly recommended. Food waste must be removed from the premises as quickly as possible to avoid a build up. Food bins outside your premises must be managed properly to avoid them overflowing and attracting pests - the bin lid must always be kept tightly closed.

You need to make sure you use the correct cleaning and disinfectant chemicals, to ensure bacteria is thoroughly destroyed. Sanitisers and disinfectants must comply to BS EN 1276:1997 or BS EN 13967:2001. A list of BS EN approved chemicals can be found here.  

Food safety management system

Depending on the nature and size of your business, you must have documented food safety management system, to demonstrate and make sure the food you sell is safe to eat. The law requires all food businesses to have in place, a documented food management system, also known as a Hazard Analysis, or HACCP. This will help show you have considered the risks within your business and you are effectively controlling them.

To help you produce a food safety management system, the Food Standards Agency has created a pack called ‘Safer Food Better Business’ (SFBB) which is suitable for most small businesses. For more information on SFBB, or to obtain a copy, go to the Food Standards Agency website, call 0845 606 0667 or email foodstandards@ecgroup.co.uk.

You do not have to use the SFBB pack, you can design and implement your own food safety management system which is suitable to your own business, although every business must have a system in place. If you are a very small business with low food safety risks, your food safety management system can also be very simple.  

Training

You must make sure all food handlers have training appropriate for the work they do. In addition, the person responsible for developing and implementing the food safety management system must also have training to enable them to do this. There is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course, although this is usually the most effective way to obtain suitable training. For people who handle open high risk foods, the CIEH ‘Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering course’ or equivalent is recommended. It's important to keep records of any training undertaken, as you will be asked for this by enforcement officers when they visit. If you do decide to undertake formal training, be careful to use a reputable company. The council run the CIEH level 2 award in food safety in catering course on a monthly basis more information can be found on the Food hygiene training page.    

Tailored business support

To help you start up your business, we can offer bespoke business advice to help you to save money and get it right first time. For more information go to our supporting your business page.