Starting a food business

When starting a new food business it's important that you register your premises, consider all food hygiene legislation and to abide by current food law requirements. Setting up in the right way creates the basis for a successful future for your business.

How to register your food premises

Go to our register your premises page for more information and to apply.

Registration is free and must be completed at least 28 days before opening your business.

Your first food hygiene inspection should take place 28 days from the date of receipt of your food registration form or from the proposed opening/start date recorded on the form when it was submitted.

Please notify us via the contact details below if circumstances have changed since the form was submitted, for example, if the opening date has been delayed or you no longer intend to open.

(If you are a home caterer we'll be in touch with you about your inspection).

What you need to consider before you start your food business

Train your staff

You need to make sure that your employees are supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene matters in order to produce safe food for consumers. Further guidance is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

There are several training providers locally (including ourselves – see our training pages) that are able to provide courses either at face to face training or via online courses. We recommend you use a reputable provider that is registered and approved by an independent assessing body.

Produce a documented food safety management system

Before you start operating as a food business, and before your inspection, you'll need to complete a documented food safety management system; this is a document to explain the procedures that you undertake within your business to ensure that you produce food which is safe to eat. Any members of staff that you have must be trained in your system.

The Food Standards Agency has produced a food safety management system pack called 'Safer Food Better Business' (SFBB) for smaller businesses.

Failure to provide a documented system is an offence and under the Food Standards Agencies 'Food Hygiene Rating Scheme' (FHRS) operated by us and the highest FHRS rating you can achieve without the appropriate documentation is 1 - 'Major Improvement Necessary'.

Go to our Food Hygiene Ratings page for more information about our scheme.

There are three types of Safer Food Better Business pack:

  • Safer Food Better Business Catering - for catering businesses (sandwich makers, restaurants etc.)
  • Safer Food Better Business Retail - for retail businesses (or low risk catering e.g. cake baking, bread baking)
  • Safer Food Better Business Childminders - for childminders who handle food as part of the child-minding activities

There are also versions of the pack in languages other than English and an industry specific insert for those operating care homes.

SFBB Diary Refill

You can print out the new print-friendly version of the diary refill separately if you only need that part of the pack. This new version can be completed electronically and allows you to download the diary pages onto your computer desktop, fill them in, name them for the appropriate month and year and store them electronically, if you prefer.

No matter which format you choose to use, you should store all your completed diary pages safely until your next visit from our officers.

They may wish to look at your diary pages.

You also need to consider the layout, design and structural requirements for the premises and training for members of staff. The Food Standards Agencies ‘Starting-Up’ Booklet contains an overview of the considerations of starting a food business from structure and layout requirements to advice on labelling and VAT).

When deciding upon the layout of your premises, separation of raw from ready-to-eat foods and good hygiene practices, signage can be a useful visual reminder.

Below we have provided a selection of useful signage for you to print, laminate and display. It's available as a single document that can be printed in full or you may choose to print certain pages, as required.

Useful Kitchen Signage [PDF, 0.2MB]

Do you know what allergens are present in your food?

The Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2014 requires food businesses to provide allergy information to their customers on food sold unpackaged, in, for example, catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. There is also legislation on labelling allergenic ingredients in prepacked foods.

The Food Standards Agency provides two useful publications that you can download:

To find out more about the regulations, visit the Food Standards Agency's allergy and intolerance page where you'll find guidance and materials to help food businesses implement and comply with the regulations.

The FSA also provide online food allergy training, and various training providers are able to offer face to face training courses (including ourselves – see our training pages).

Other important documents you should read

These useful documents will assist you with complying with the legal obligations.

Food law inspections and your business

If you run a business that makes or prepares food, it will be inspected to make sure you are following food law. The inspectors will be our employed enforcement officers.

Find out what inspections might involve, the action that inspectors can take if they find a problem in your business and what you can do to help resolve any issues on the Food Standards Agency 'how to make an appeal' website.

Other things you need to think about

There are several instances where you may need to get permissions and or licences, as well as other legal requirements that may need to be met.

Health and safety

We provide lots of information in our health and safety risk assessments and policies as well as offering health and safety training.

Planning and building control

You may require planning permission or building control consent due to a 'change of use' of the premises or alterations / additions to your property. You'll find useful information in our planning applications and building control pages.


If you supply alcohol, provide entertainment to the public or hot refreshment after 11pm, you may require a licence. You'll find useful information in our licensing section. We also offer Licensing Law Awareness training courses.


You need to ensure you have adequate arrangements for the removal of your waste, for which you'll need a trade waste collection service from us. Find out more in our business waste section.


You need to consider the impact your business may have on your neighbours in terms of noise and odour (from cooking smells).  

Business rates

You may need to pay business rates for your commercial venture? Find out more in our business rates section.

Keep up to date with food safety news and developments

The Food Standards Agencies (FSA) website is updated many times each day, and you can register for email updates. There are 25 different categories, so you can choose to get the information that's most useful and relevant for you.

Help and more information

If you need help in completing your SFBB pack or for more information, contact the Commercial Team, details below.

If you choose to email us, please give your business address and contact details.

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