Congratulations on setting up your new food retail, catering or manufacturing business. It’s an exciting time, with lots to do to get ready to open the doors and start serving your customers.
As your local Campaign Partner for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), here is some quick advice to make sure you do to get off to the right start.
1. Register your food business with the Local Authority
If you are starting a new business (or taking over an existing one) you should register it with the Local Authority at least 28 days before opening. Registration of your food business is free and can’t be refused.
There are some exceptions to this, for example Food businesses that make, prepare or handle meat, fish, egg or dairy products for supply to other businesses may require approval by a local authority and not registration. There is more information who should apply for approval here.
If you are already trading and have not registered, you need to do so as soon as possible. You can register your business for food operations here.
2. Bring yourself up to speed about the food hygiene standards that will be expected by your Local Authority
It is likely you will be inspected by your local authority so making use of the advice and guidance they supply will help you prepare. Preparing thoroughly for inspection means your food business has the best chance of getting a top 5 rating under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. This is what you should aim for as your food hygiene rating will be published and consumers are increasingly being told to check food hygiene ratings. See our article on Reasons to Strive for a 5.
Find the appropriate Safer Food, Better Business guide that suits your business. The FSA have information packs for caterers, retailers, takeaways, childminders and residential care homes.
I have sourced a range of online Food Safety courses that could be of help.
3. Plan how you are going to manage food safety going forward
Food safety management is about complying with food hygiene and food standards. When putting your food safety management procedures in place use the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).
HACCP is a system that helps you identify potential food hazards and introduce procedures to make sure those hazards are removed or reduced to an acceptable level.
These procedures will help you produce and sell food that is safe to eat, providing you:
- keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures
- regularly review your procedures to ensure they reflect what you produce or how you work
I have sourced a couple of HACCP online courses which could help.
4. Think about what else you’ll need to consider
You must keep your premises clean and maintained in good repair and condition. Your premises must allow you to follow good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and pest control. Think about:
The following rules apply to your whole premises, not just the areas used for preparing food.
- Hand-washing and changing facilities and toilets
- Ventilation, lighting and drainage
- Floors and walls that are easy to keep clean and disinfect
- Ceilings free from dirt, mould or flaking paint and plaster
- Windows with easily removable and cleanable insect-proof screens
- Doors and surfaces which are maintained in a good condition, easy to clean and disinfect
- Storage areas for cleaning equipment
- Separate sinks for washing food and equipment, with drinking quality hot and cold water.
- Equipment that’s in good order, repair and condition, which can be effectively cleaned and disinfected frequently.
- Adequate facilities to store and dispose food and prevent pests.
- Food labelling.
- Allergen advice.
5. Health and Safety and Fire Safety
If you have five or more employees, you must have a written health and safety policy that describes the arrangements in place.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has developed an H&S ABC – An easy guide to health & safety to help small and medium sized businesses understand health and safety.
You must carry out a fire risk assessment at your premises and take fire safety precautions to help protect you, your staff and customers. The type of precautions you need to have will depend on the outcome of the fire risk assessment of the premises.
If you are planning to adapt your premises, it is a good idea to get fire safety advice before you start the work. You can get advice from your local fire authority.
For more information, see the fire and explosion pages of the Health and Safety Executive website.