Start a food business
So you're thinking of starting your own food business? Great! When starting a food business there are a few things to take care and be aware of. Below we go into some detail of these points. For more in depth information, please visit the Food Standards Agency website.
A few things to consider:
- Registering your premises
- The design and structure of your establishment
- Training your staff
- Recording your safety management procedures
- General Food Law requirements
- Food allergens
- Food hygiene
- Alcohol licensing
Registering your premises
You must register your food business if you wish to carry out food operations and this includes selling, cooking, storing, handling, preparing and distributing food. Regardless of whether your food operation is in a purchased premise, a mobile/temporary premise including stalls and vans or even in your own home, you must register.
You should register at least 28 days before you start any food operations.
It is completely free to register and your registration can’t be refused, though we can of course require you to make changes if they are needed. .
You could be fined, imprisoned for up to 2 years or both if you do not register your food business.
You can register your food business with us online . Please note that any information supplied in your registration with us is usually available to third parties who may make freedom of information requests to us. You must though still complete the form fully.
Approved premises - processing products of animal origin
Some food businesses will handle and process products of animal origin and turn them into other products before selling to other businesses or far afield. This includes, for example ready meal manufacturers, dairies and some pie makers. The rules around approval can be complex and, if you need it, to operate without approval is illegal which can lead to your products being seized. A very general rule of thumb is if you are handling dairy, meat or fish products and processing or turning them into another product (such as a fish pie or pasteurised milk) AND THEN selling these finished products largely to other businesses OR outside of the local area then you will probably need approval BEFORE you can start. Get in touch with us to ask in good time!
Approved food premises do not need to register, but they do need to apply for approval.
Premises that operate as raw meat cutting plants also need approval, but this is carried out by the Food Standards Agency.
General advice for new businesses
The design and structure of your premises
When choosing the premises for your food business you need to consider:
- if your premises comply with the necessary regulations
- if they are suitable for the needs of your business
- allow you to conduct your food operation safely
For more information about how you can create the safest and most suitable premises for your food operation, go through the Food Standards Agency's ‘Starting-Up’ Booklet here.
These rules and regulations are put in place to make sure your food premises are safe for you, your staff and for the general public. For instance in your kitchen you need to have the proper food separation areas so that cross-contimation does not occur.
Before your business becomes operational and open to the public, you need to make sure your staff have been trained in food hygiene in order to maximise the safety of your food operation.
The Food Standards Agency website contains a lot of helpful information about training providers, the food hygiene certificate and even some safety coaching videos.
Unfortunately Melton Borough Council are not presently able to offer food hygiene or health and safety training courses. Instead we recommend you refer to either one of the neighbouring local authorities for details of any courses they are offering OR you look at the various independent training providers, including those online. Training is often available from:
- Leicester City Council: Food Safety in Catering Level 2 qualification information
- Charnwood Borough Council: Hygiene Awareness training information
Implementing and documenting your food safety management procedures
Before your food business goes live and before your inspection, you will need to complete the documentation of your food safety management procedures. This document will explain the measures and procedures you undertook to ensure that your food operation produces safe to consume food.
The Food Standards Agency have produced packs for different kinds of food operations - called Safer Food, Better Business (SFBB) to help businesses with their food safety management procedure documentation:
- SFBB supplement for residential care homes
- SFBB for Indian cuisine
- SFBB for Chinese cuisine
- Teaching resource for colleges
If you need a refill for your diary pages you can find them here. Your diary pages should always be kept up to date for your own record, for inspections and for visits from our Environmental Health and Food Safety Officers.
For an overview of these packs, please click here.
As well as documenting your food safety management procedures, you should also keep written records of all the suppliers that provide you with food or food ingredients.
Inspections are normally unannounced. We are not required to give you notice of a visit, though officers will provide you with information at an inspection detailing when you may expect the next visit, for example in 18 months time.
The Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2014 states that "information on certain foods causing allergies or intolerances that were used in the manufacture or preparation of a food" must be provided for prepackaged foods.
Where the food is not packaged, the FIR requires that when "food is sold by means of distance selling (e.g. takeaway order by telephone or online), allergen information should be made available by the FBO before the purchase is concluded, and be made available at point of delivery (e.g. via a menu, sticker)."
The Food Standards Agency provides many useful downloadable documents as well as online assistance to help with your allergen labelling:
- Allergy and intolerance: guide for businesses
- Allergen information for loose foods
- Allergy: What to consider when labelling food
- RESOURCES for chefs, business owners, consumers and children concerning allergen info
- TRAINING: online food allergy training
Other helpful food safety documents:
- Preventing Ecoli O157
- Q&As on the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation allergen provisions
- Food allergen labelling and information requirements under the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011: Technical Guidance
- Meat Industry Guide (MIG)
- Minimising the risk of Clostridium botulinum in vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods
- Wild game safety information
If your food operation is going to include the sale of alcohol, you will need to apply for an alcohol licence or receive authorisation from the licensing authority. For premises in the borough of Melton please see our Licensing pages for further information. In addition if you wish to sell hot food and drink after 11pm you will need to apply for a licence for that too.
Food Hygiene Ratings
Businesses selling or supplying food and drink to the public automatically included in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. You score is generated following your inspection and further information on the scheme can be found on our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme pages.
Food Standard Agency updates and advice
The FSA updates their page several times a day, so in order to keep up to date with the latest regulations and online supprt, sign up to receive email alerts.
When signing up, you can choose from a range of categories so you only receive email alerts that are relevant to you.
Help and advice - Leicestershire Food and Drink Forum
The Leicestershire Food and Drink Forum offer help and assistance to local food businesses of all sizes. You can check their website for details of how they might be able to help you.