Setting up a Food Business
If you are starting a new food business, there are several issues to consider; you may need to obtain planning permission; you may need to register as a food business, and your premises must comply with food safety standards, and will be inspected by an Environmental Health Officer. If you are using your home as your business premises then this will have to comply with the same food safety regulations.
Remember that it will be your responsibility to comply with all the legislation. Further information on food hygiene and safety is available on the Food Standard Agency website.
Registering Your Food Business
All food businesses must be registered with the Council at least 28 days before they open for business. Registration cannot be refused and there is no charge. If you use premises in more than one local authority area, you must register with each separately.
Registration of premises including restaurants, shops, cafes, warehouses, market stalls, delivery vehicles and other moveable structures is compulsory and it enables Council officers to inspect them and give advice to food business operators. There are certain exemptions for premises which are already registered for food law for example, premises approved for the production and sale to other food businesses of certain foods such as meat products. You should contact us if you are unsure about whether a specific type of premises is exempt.
How To Register
Registration is free.
Register your business on the food.gov.uk website.
If the Activities of your Food Business Change
Once you have registered with Council you only need notify us of a change of proprietor, if the nature of the business changes, or if there is a change of the address at which a moveable premises are kept. The new proprietor will have to complete an application form.
Food Safety Management System
It is a legal requirement for food businesses to have a documented food safety management in place. Safer Food, Better Business (SFBB) is a free, easy to use food safety management pack produced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
FSA provides SFBB for:
- Indian cuisine
- Chinese cuisine in English
- Chinese cuisine in Cantonese
- Residential care homes
One-Off Event Catering
Any food business which runs for more than five days in any five consecutive weeks must be registered with the Council at least 28 days before it commences operating. This applies whether it is public or private and whether for profit or not. For more information about registration, please look at the registration section. Even if you don't need to register, food safety is very important. You should plan ahead to make sure that you will be able to serve food safely.
Issues to Consider
Hand Washing Facilities
Anyone handling food will need access to suitable hand washing facilities. These should be kept clean, with adequate supplies of hot and cold or suitably mixed water, soap, a nailbrush and hygienic hand drying facilities. Food handlers should wash their hands:
- before handling food
- after handling raw foods
- after using the toilet
- after handling high risk foods
- after breaks
- after coughing, sneezing, nose blowing or touching hair
Vehicles to deliver food should be fit for purpose. Some foods may require refrigeration or insulation for example. The storage facilities should protect the food, and be capable of maintaining safe temperatures for high-risk products. Also, raw and cooked foods should be separated, with raw foods stored so that moisture running off it will not go on to the cooked food.
Equipment and crockery must be stored in covered containers and off the ground. Separate knives and chopping boards should be provided for raw and cooked foods. Work surfaces for food preparation should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before any food handling or preparation.
Preparation, storage and service of food should be done promptly. If some food is to be prepared in advance, then it is better to do this with low-risk foods, such as vegetables. All high risk products must be kept below 8°C or above 63°C. Food temperatures can be checked with a probe thermometer.
- preparation surfaces should be smooth, impervious and readily cleansable
- food preparation areas must have adequate lighting
- there must be enough space to operate
- storage, preparation and display of cooked food must be separate to that of raw food
- used crockery should not be taken through food handling areas
- there must be easy access for removal of waste from the food handling area
- an adequate supply of clean, potable water should be available
- facilities to wash crockery and cutlery must be supplied - these should be separate to wash hand basins and sinks used for food preparation
A suitable number of containers, with close fitting lids, should be provided for refuse. These should be removed from the site by a competent contractor. Unfit food waste should be stored well away from fit food, and containers should be marked 'unfit for human consumption'.
Food Safety News and Alerts
Food Safety News and Alerts (FSA) – up-to-date food and allergy alerts, and FSA’s latest news and consultations.