Basic food businesses advice

Page updated on: 08/02/2024

Advice if you are starting up a new food business or taking over an existing one.

A 'food business' includes any undertaking (public or private, profit or non profit) of the following food operations: preparation, processing, manufacture, packaging, storage, transportation, distribution, handling of or offering for sale.

Food premises include:

  • restaurants, hotels,
  • cafes,
  • shops,
  • supermarkets,
  • staff canteens,
  • public houses,
  • bars (including drinks only),
  • warehouses,
  • guest houses,
  • home caterers,
  • delivery vehicles,
  • buffet cars on trains,
  • market and other stalls,
  • hot dog and ice cream vans.
  • They also include any other type of premises not in this list but used for storing, selling, distributing or preparing food.

A 'food business operator' is the natural or legal person(s) responsible for making sure the requirements of food law are met in the food business under their control.

If you are running a food business or thinking of starting one you will need to make sure the food or drink you will be producing is both safe and wholesome. The most important regulations that apply specifically to food businesses are:

These set out the basic hygiene requirements for all aspects of your business. From your premises and facilities to the personal hygiene of your staff. They also set a requirement that the food business operator must make sure the food you put on the market is not harmful to people's health or unfit for people to eat.

Every food business will pose a different risk depending on the type of food produced. The type of food, how it is handled, treated and stored must all be considered when deciding if there is a risk to safety. Certain trade organisations produce voluntary guidelines and you should check if your business is one of those covered.

If you are thinking of starting up a new food business there is a lot of planning that needs to be done. As well as making sure your food premises is constructed properly, with good design, layout and hygiene, you need to make sure you and your staff are trained. You also need to have proper systems in place to make sure the food you sell is safe and of good quality.

Safer food, better business advice from Food Standards Agency