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Your food safety guide to starting a food business

A foundation for starting a food business, whether a restaurant, cafe, food truck, bakery, or at-home catering company, is having food safety systems and processes in place before taking your first order. In this blog, we will lay out all the areas of food safety that need to be considered and things that need to be in place.


Food Business Licence

First things first under UK law you must apply for a food business licence, this registers you with your local authority. It does not cost anything to register and your registration cannot be refused. A licence needs to be obtained whether you are starting a business from scratch or taking over an existing business. This step should be taken as soon as you have secured premises and finalised your company name. A food business licence needs to be submitted at least 28 days before opening.

Food Premise Approval

If you will be handling meat, fish, egg or dairy products, you are required by UK law to gain food premise approval. This means that you will need to be inspected and may require approval from your local council. If you are a Vegan only business, this will not apply to you.

Other Business Licensing

Alcohol licence: if you are planning to serve alcohol, then you will need to apply for an alcohol licence via the local authority. This is a straightforward process that can be done via the government website.

Personal licence to sell alcohol: either you or a staff member must hold this licence in order to lawfully sell alcohol, meaning that each supply or sale of alcohol is authorised.

Premises licence: this licence tends to apply to pubs and bars or any other business that plans to sell alcohol or serve hot food outside standard restaurant operating hours.

Temporary event notice: this licence is required if you serve alcohol for a special occasion or an event such as an opening or launch event. This licence must be applied for at least 10 working days prior to the event.

Music licence: if you plan to play music, whether it be back of house or front of house then you will need a music licence. PPL PRS is the UK’s music licensing company and can be easily applied for online.

Types of insurances you are likely to need:

Public Liability Insurance: covers you if a customer suffers sickness or injury while on your business premises.

Employer’s Liability Insurance: similar to public liability insurance, Employer’s Liability insurance protects you if an employee is injured while in the workplace.

Building Insurance: covers any damage to your business establishment and also covers contents in the building. This is normally the responsibility of the landlord however you should check that this is in place.

Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)

It is a legal requirement for all food businesses to have an up-to-date HACCP, to help manage food safety hazards.

A HACCP should contain information and policies on:

  • Personal hygiene

  • Temperature monitoring

  • Delivery and stock control

  • Pest control

  • Cross-contamination

  • Cleaning

Need help creating a HACCP for your business? Get in touch and our team of food safety consultants can help prepare this for you.

Food hygiene training

Training your team on food hygiene is vital. It is not a legal requirement that your staff attend external training and obtain a certificate; in-house training is sufficient if it is carried out correctly and by an experienced team member. However, senior staff members, such as owners, managers, and head chefs should obtain a high level of training and verified by certification. This food safety training guide will help you plan your staff training needs depending on job role and food handling level.

Allergen management

Following Natasha’s Law which came into force on 1st October 2021, all food businesses are required to display allergen information to their customers and effectively manage allergens when preparing food. This should include thoroughly cleaning equipment and washing hands, and storing allergen foods separately from other foods.

There are 14 foods that need to be declare by law. Hubl has an allergen management feature that allows you to easily manage your menu when it comes to the 14 food allergens. Hubl will filter your menu making it easy to show customers with allergies what dishes they can eat from your menu. When you make changes to ingredients in menu items it is tracked with a timestamp, allowing you to easily go back in time to see when an allergen was added or removed. Discover 3 key steps to becoming an allergy-friendly establishment.

Since Natasha’s Law has come into place, more and more businesses are investing in allergen management training for staff. Highfield offers an online Introduction level course, which will provide your staff with the basic understanding needed to help keep your customers and business safe.


UK law states that you must store information on all your suppliers that provide you with ingredients and finished food products and any business customers that you supply (if applicable). This should be in place to help aid product recalls and withdrawals. Authorities can request these records at any time. Our sister company, Complete Food Safety, has put together a simple four step process to creating a food traceability system.

Preventing food crime

Like all industries, there are non-favorable suppliers. Avoiding food crime by only selecting reputable suppliers, understanding where the product comes from, and being wary of suppliers offering pricing that is much lower than the market average.

Food and ingredients should not be left unattended to the public to have access to. For example there should always be someone front of the house if you have food on display, such as cakes, sandwiches, etc.

Health and safety

Companies with five or more employees are required to have a health and safety policy in place such as a risk assessment, which should pinpoint potential risks and measures to minimise the risk and what steps would be taken if an incident occurs. Depending on the size of your operation will also determine the number of first aider and fire marshals you need to have onsite at any given time. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also has a helpful video guide.

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