If you are setting up a new business, or taking over an existing business there are a number of things you need to do:
What you need to think about before you start your business
- Train your staff – make sure your staff are supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene in order to produce safe food. Training can be done by reputable training providers or online courses.
- Produce a documented food safety management system - The Food Standards Agency has produced a food safety management system pack called 'Safer Food Better Business' (SFBB) for smaller businesses. Safer food, better business (SFBB) | Food Standards Agency
- Design, layout and construction of your premises – do they meet the legal requirements? You can find out more here.
When will I be Inspected?
All food business will receive an inspection when they start trading and at regular intervals afterwards depending on their risk.
The number of inspections is determined by the ‘risk rating’ given to the premises at the previous inspection.
Premises usually receive an inspection every one to two years, however ‘low risk’ premises may not always receive an on-site inspection and may be asked to complete surveys etc.
How do inspections work?
During the inspection officers will want to be satisfied that adequate controls are in place to prevent any problems, to ensure food is being stored, prepare and cooked safely, staff are adequately trained and the condition and cleanliness of the premises meets required standards. A food hygiene rating will be given to all businesses which fall within the scope of the scheme.
You can find further information on the Food Standards Agency website
What powers do food officers have?
Officers can enter premises at any reasonable time (opening hours) or by prior appointment (for example at domestic premises).
Where practices or conditions are not satisfactory, every attempt will be made to resolve the situation by informal means, but where poor conditions persist, or where there is a risk to public health it may be necessary to resort to formal action. This could involve either the service of a legal notice, prosecution, or in extreme cases closure of the business.
What about Allergens?
The Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2014 require food businesses to provide allergy information to their customers on food sold unpackaged in, for example, catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries, sandwich bars etc. There are also laws on labelling allergenic ingredients in pre-packed foods.
To find out more about what you need to do, visit the Food Standards Agency's page where you'll find guidance and materials to help food businesses implement and comply with the regulations.
The FSA also provide free Food Standards Agency food allergy online training which all staff should do.
Also useful are two publications that you can download:
- Allergy - What to consider when labelling food [PDF, 11.5MB]
- Allergen Information for Loose Foods [PDF, 2MB]
Food business inspection process flowchart
Last Updated: 07/08/2023