Starting a new food business

We can provide you with a new business pack to help you when starting up, please contact us for a copy. You should visit the Food Standards Agency website for information on starting a food business, and our food standards section to know how to correctly describe and label food.

Whilst anyone can open a food business, we advise you to gain catering experience and/or qualifications. Areas you need to understand include:

  • food safety and hygiene
  • food labelling
  • any compositional regulations for products you make e.g. jam, meat products, chocolate
  • health and safety
  • weights and measures

Anyone handling food must have received adequate training.

Suitable premises

When looking for premises ensure you consider food safety laws and that the layout and design of the premises meet current legislation on:

  • adequate workspace to allow the safe handling and preparation of food
  • facilities for cleaning food equipment and hands
  • storage space, including refrigeration
  • waste disposal arrangements
  • staff facilities eg for storage of clothes
  • ventilation
  • drainage

Registering your business

All new food businesses must register with us at least 28 days before opening. To do this please complete and return a food premises registration form.

Food safety procedures

All food businesses are required to manage food safety, and most businesses will be legally required to have a written food safety management system. The purpose of this is to ensure that the food you provide is safe for customers to eat. This consists of written procedures covering:

  • how food is prepared safely
  • staff training
  • cleaning schedules
  • records you keep, eg temperature records

The level of documentation required will depend on the nature and size of your business - please contact us if you want advice on this.

Prepare a food safety management system

The first stage in creating a food safety management system is 'hazard analysis'. This requires you to think about the food that you provide and the various stages of handling including storage, preparation, cooking and cooling. At each of these stages you must consider what could go wrong in terms of food safety and make a note of these issues.

After you have carried out your hazard analysis you need to put in place controls to manage any hazards you have identified. These should deal with the hazard so that the food you provide is safe. Controls may include things like storage temperature of food, or the way you prevent cross contamination between raw food (eg meat) and food that is ready to eat.

A food safety management system prepared in this way is based on 'Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point' (HACCP), which:

  • is a legal requirement for all food businesses
  • helps ensure food is safe for customers to eat
  • allows you to demonstrate in a court of law that you exercised diligence by having arrangements in place

See the HACCP factsheet for businesses.

Safer Food, Better Business

Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) is a food safety management system produced by the Food Standards Agency. It is a straightforward, easy to use document that will help you put in place a food safety management system that meets legal requirements. There is no cost to download Safer Food Better Business from the Food Standards Agency website.

Once you have obtained SFBB you will need to complete this document before you start trading.

Your food safety management procedures are important as they will be assessed during inspections, and will form part of your food hygiene rating.

Food safety training

It is a legal requirement for food businesses to ensure that all staff that handle food are supervised, and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters to an appropriate level.

The appropriate level varies depending on the type of food business and what each member of staff does. If you would like advice on whether you or your staff need training, please contact us. If you need to arrange some training, see the list of training providers. You can also download a pack to get help with food hygiene training in other languages.

Health and safety

Health and safety is an important issue in food business. There are increased risks from slips, trips and falls in kitchens and other risks such as manual handling.

For further information, the Health and Safety Executives provides health and safety information made simple or you can contact our Public Protection team for advice.

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