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Starting a food business

It is your legal responsibility to make sure you produce food safely when starting your food business. Find advice on how to do this at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website.

You also need to meet legal standards for food businesses.

If you are starting a new food business or taking over an existing one you must register your business with us. Registration is free and needs to be done at least 28 days before you start operating. Find further advice on who needs to register on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website.

For most businesses you will just need to register with us, but for some approval is required before you can operate.

Register a food business

A food business is anyone preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying or selling food.

Register a food business

When to get approval

If you make, prepare or handle food which comes from animals and supply to other businesses you may need approval.

Approval is free of charge and you do not need to register as well.

What happens next

A food safety officer will visit your premises to carry out a food hygiene inspection. The inspecting officer will discuss their findings with you and leave a written report. Most businesses that supply food to the final consumer will be included in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and will be advised of their rating.

Making changes

If there are changes to the ownership of your business or significant change to the type of food business you run you must let us know.

Operating a food business safely

For advice on producing food safely, read the Food Standards Agency's Safer Food, Better Business guidance.

Safer food, better business packs

We can supply printed copies of the Safer Food Better Business Pack and diary sheets on request. Costs:

  • SFBB Pack - £16.00 (excludes postage and packing)
  • Diary sheets - £5.00

Please contact our customer services team to order or for further information.

Fats, oils and grease

You will need to make sure that any grease, oils and fat are disposed of properly. Keeping fats, oils and grease out of drains is always the most effective solution to keep your pipes clear of blockages. Discharging these substances is illegal and you could face fines or prosecution under Section 111 of The Water Industry Act 1991 if you damage sewers. Thames Water have produced some best practice advice to keep your drains and pipes free of blockages.

Food allergies and intolerances

The Food Standards Agency has guidance for businesses on food allergies and intolerances including training and signs you can download to put up in your business: