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Start-up checklist for new food businesses

A checklist to support new food businesses, and those selling food from home, set up effectively and protect their customers.

Last updated: 21 February 2022

This checklist is for individuals planning to start a food business, whether from home or from commercial premises.

This list is not exhaustive and should be read alongside our food hygiene and food safety guidance. Following these steps will help you to meet hygiene standards, stay compliant with the law and protect your customers.

This checklist is also available for download in table format.

Register with your local authority

You should register with your local authority at least 28 days before you start your food business. If you are already trading and have not registered, you need to register as soon as possible.

Check you have the appropriate permissions 

If you are running your business from home, or a domestic premises, you need to ensure you have the appropriate permissions in place. You may need to check with:

  • your mortgage company or landlord 
  • your local planning authority 
  • insurance provider.

You should also investigate: 

  • tax allowances
  • business rates.

Register as self-employed

When starting a food business, you need to inform HMRC that you are self-employed. This is to alert them that you will pay tax through Self-Assessment. You need to register as self-employed, even if you are part-time or have another job.

Contact your local authority for advice

Your local authority’s website may have helpful guidance relating to starting your food business.

Set up food safety procedures

Food businesses must have food safety management procedures in place. You may find our Safer food, better business for caterers pack (the Safe catering pack in Northern Ireland) useful to understand and address food safety and hygiene risks.

Consider food safety training

It is important to demonstrate the highest standards of food preparation, handling, storage and serving. Contact your local authority’s Food Safety or Environmental Health team for advice on relevant food safety training courses available to you.

Practice good food hygiene

Good food hygiene is essential to make sure that the food you serve is safe to eat. When you are setting up a food business, you need to introduce ways of working that will help you ensure hygiene standards are right from the start.

The four main areas to remember for good food hygiene are: cleaning, cooking, chilling and avoiding cross-contamination.

Prepare your premises to run a food business

Your food business premises, which could be your home, must be kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition. You should take into account:

  • handwashing facilities
  • food preparation areas and equipment
  • food waste & pest control
  • health and safety and fire safety.

Selling food online and delivering it safely 

When you sell food over the internet, it is subject to UK food law. This covers safety, record keeping, product withdrawals, recalls, hygiene and labelling. 

You must ensure that all food must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that it does not become unsafe or unfit to eat. 

More information on safe delivery can be found in food safety for food delivery.

Provide allergen information and follow labelling rules 

Food businesses of all sizes are required to provide allergen information and follow labelling rules as set out in food law.

This means that you must provide allergen information to your customers, handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation and know if your food sale is impacted by PPDS (Prepacked for Direct Sale) regulations.

More information on allergen management can be found in allergen guidance for food businesses.