Register a food business
If you are thinking of setting up a food business, there is a lot to consider before you can serve your first customer.
These basic requirements are the same for all businesses, whether they are large manufacturing plants, mobile food vans or a small caterer working from home.
Register your business
The law says that any premises used for a food business must be registered. You must register with the environmental health team in the district where your business is based at least 28 days before opening up. For mobile food vendors this will be the authority where your vehicle is stored.
Registration is free and an officer will contact you to discuss your business and to arrange a visit to make sure everything is safe.
Download the food premises registration form.
Comply with the law
The basic structural requirements for premises where food is handled are quite simple. These include:
- Rooms must be kept clean. Walls, floors and surfaces must be smooth and water resistant.
- There must be hand washing facilities and suitable refuse arrangements.
- Equipment must be suitable, clean and well maintained.
Some businesses will have specific structural requirements. If you are converting or making changes to a building in order to open a food business you are strongly advised to speak to a food officer before commencing work to avoid any costly mistakes.
For home caterers, the leaflet running a food business from home may give you some pointers on structural requirements.
The law now requires all food businesses to have a recorded safe food management system (also known as HACCP). This system will show that you have considered the risks posed by your business and put in place ways to reduce or remove the risk.
The Food Standards Agency has created a pack called 'Safer Food Better Business' (SFBB) which is intended to act as a template for most small catering and retail operations. The safe food system will be discussed with you at your initial inspection, but more information on SFBB can be downloaded from the Food Standards Agency website.
If you need any advice on structural requirements for food businesses, food handling, training or the current laws concerning food the Commercial Team at Lichfield District Council will be happy to help. Contact 01543 308744 and ask to speak to a food officer, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Food Standards Agency also produces a large number of leaflets, posters and information packs which provide useful start-up information for food businesses. Many are free of charge and available in various languages.
You may find the booklet starting up - your first steps to running a catering business a good place to begin.