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This page provides comprehensive guidance on how to prepare for starting your food business. Please ensure you read all the sections in this guide to gather the necessary information to run your food business effectively.

Planning Before You Start Your Food Business

Before launching your food business, it’s essential to invest time in thorough planning and preparation. This step is crucial to ensure you operate your food business safely and successfully. A simple checklist is:


Having a business plan is crucial for a successful food business.


Register with your local authority at least 28 days before trading.


Ensure you meet requirements if running your business from home.

Register as self-employed

Inform HMRC that you are self-employed. Find advice and support on the website.

Set up food safety procedures

Implement food safety management procedures. Taking training is a great way to understand this.

Consider food safety training

Maintain high standards of food handling and preparation. More details further down this blog.

Practice good food hygiene

Ensure food hygiene to keep food safe.

Prepare your premises to run a food business

Your premises must be clean and well-maintained.

Selling food online and delivering it safely

Ensure safe delivery of food to consumers.

Provide allergen information and follow labelling rules

Follow allergen and labelling rules as set out in food law.

Who Needs to Register

If you sell, cook, store, handle, prepare, or distribute food, you are likely considered a food business and must register with your local authority.

This requirement applies to food businesses operating:

  • From physical customer-facing premises
  • From home
  • From a mobile unit or temporary premises
  • Online (such as via social media or a website) or through distance selling (selling without face-to-face contact with the consumer)

Image of selling food for Learn Q Starting Your Own Food Business blogRegistration is mandatory for all types of businesses that sell food and/or drink, regardless of their operating location. Companies involved in food distribution, brokerage, or supply that operate from an office must also register, even if no food is stored on-site.

If your business operates in multiple locations, you must register each premise with the local authority where they are located. For further advice or if you are unsure whether you need to register, please contact your local authority in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

Guidance on How to Register Your Food Business with Your Local Authority

When starting a new food business or taking over an existing one, you must register with your local authority at least 28 days before you begin trading. Registration is free and cannot be refused. If you are already trading but have not yet registered, you must do so immediately, as it is a legal requirement.

If you supply food regularly to the public, whether for free or otherwise, you need to register as a food business.

When to Register

Registration should occur at least 28 days before trading begins. We advise against registering too early; instead, wait until you are within the 28-day window before starting operations. Use our checklist to ensure you have considered all necessary factors before registration.

If you cease trading at any point, you must inform your local authority.

Image of selling food for Learn Q Starting Your Own Food Business blogSelling Food from Customer-Facing Premises

If you are operating from physical customer-facing premises, please review our guidance on setting up your food business premises. Additionally, consider our guidance on selling food for delivery.

Selling Food from Home

For those trading from home, please read our guidance on starting a food business safely and from your home.

Selling Food from Mobile or Temporary Premises

If your business operates from a mobile unit or temporary premises, ensure you read our guidance on starting a food business safely and setting up your food business premises.

Selling Food Online

If you are selling food online (via social media, a website, or through distance selling), review our guidance on starting a food business safely, setting up your food business premises, and selling food for delivery.

Relevant Training Courses

In terms of training, as a minimum, any supervisors will need a Level 3 Food hygiene certificate.

Everyone else will need a Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate.

You should also consider completing Allergen Awareness, Fire Safety, Health and Safety and HACCP training. Learn Q offer money saving bundles that are designed to cover all the above and are ideal for new business owners.

Level 2 Food Safety Essentials (Food Hygiene Level 2, Allergen Awareness, health and safety, fire safety).

Level 3 Food Safety Essentials For Supervisors (Food Hygiene Level 2, Allergen Awareness, HACCP, health and safety, fire safety).

Scroll down for links to Learn Q’s food training.

Registering as a Childminder

If you provide food as part of your childminding business in England, the details you provide to Ofsted or your childminder agency will also register you as a food business with your local authority, eliminating the need for separate registration.

You must comply with food safety and hygiene regulations if you provide food and drink for children or babies, including:

  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Drinks (excluding mains tap water)
  • Reheated food provided by a parent/carer
  • Food that you cut up and prepare

Registration requirements differ in Wales and Northern Ireland for childminders providing food. Contact your local authority for more information.

You can find the latest information on setting up a food business from the Food Standards Agency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Food hygiene is the study of the settings and steps required to guarantee food safety all along the supply chain. This covers safe food handling procedures, kitchen environs cleanliness, and food workers’ personal hygiene. All methods and laws meant to stop foodborne diseases and guarantee that food is safe to eat are included in the field of food safety.

It entails keeping an eye on the whole food production process, from obtaining materials to serving the finished product.

Every three years at the very least, or anytime internal procedures or food safety laws significantly alter, food hygiene training should be revised. Staff members are guaranteed to be knowledgeable about emerging hazards, technology, and best practices through regular updates. Companies should also offer continuing education and refresher courses to cover any knowledge gaps and reinforce important ideas.

Penalties for non-compliance can be severe, including:

Infractions of legislation governing food safety can result in the imposition of fines, which are significant monetary penalties.

Business Closure
Authority to Close firms Authorities have the authority to shut down firms that are a serious threat to the health of the general population.

In extreme circumstances, owners and managers of businesses may be subject to criminal prosecution and perhaps serve time in prison.

Noncompliance can result in lawsuits from irate customers, in addition to damaging the company’s reputation and removing operating licences.

Regular Audits and Inspections
Maintaining compliance with sanitary practices can be facilitated by conducting audits and inspections on a regular basis. The purpose of these checks is to provide an accurate picture of the daily activities, and they should be both scheduled and unscheduled.

Staff Meetings and Training
Staff meetings and training sessions should be held on a regular basis in order to help stress the significance of hygiene standards and to keep staff members informed of any modifications or new procedures.

Incentives and Recognition
It is possible to motivate and encourage excellent practices by putting in place programmes of recognition and incentives for staff members who consistently uphold hygiene standards.

Clear Policies and Procedures
The establishment of policies and procedures for hygiene practices that are both clear and documented ensures that every member of the staff is aware of what is expected of them. The use of visual reminders, such as checklists and posters, can also be an effective way to reinforce important habits.

  • Planning
  • Registration
  • Permissions
  • Register as self-employed
  • Set up food safety procedures
  • Consider food safety training
  • Practice good food hygiene
  • Prepare your premises to run a food business
  • Selling food online and delivering it safely
  • Provide allergen information and follow labelling rules

Food Safety Online Training Courses

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