Setting up a food business

Registering a food business

Food businesses must register their premises with the Environmental Health service by completing a Food Premises Registration Form at least 28 days before opening.

More information is available on our Registering a food business page

Food hygiene training

If not handled properly, food can be very dangerous, leading to illness and even death. It is important that before starting your business you have some knowledge about food safety and good hygiene practices.

It is a legal requirement that "the proprietor of a food business shall ensure that food handlers engaged in the food business are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activities". It is recommended that you attend the CIEH Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering training, or an equivalent.

Courses are run regularly at the Council Offices and you can also find trainers on the CIEH website.

There may be other agencies that you need to contact:

  • you might need to register as self-employed and/or register for Valued Added Tax (VAT). These registration processes are completely separate from registering your food premises
  • if you want to make changes to your premises, remember that you might need planning permission
  • you will need to pay Business Rates on most premises - contact Customer Services
  • you will need a licence for certain activities, such as selling or supplying alcohol or selling hot food between 11pm and 5am
  • you will need to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments for your work activities. More information and example risk assessments can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website
  • Surrey Trading Standards provide guidance to new businesses on labelling, weights and measures, business waste, trade law, credit law and "Buy with Confidence"

Checklist for starting up

  • have you registered your premises?
  • does the design and construction of your premises meet legal requirement?
  • are you aware of the legal requirements that apply to you?
  • do you keep written records of all the suppliers that provide you with food or any food ingredients?
  • do you and your staff understand the principles of good food hygiene?
  • have you considered health and safety and fire safety arrangements?
  • have you registered as self-employed?
  • do you need to register for VAT?
  • are you keeping records of all your business income and expenses?
  • are you keeping records of your employees' pay and do you know how to pay their tax and National Insurance contributions?
  • do you describe food and drink accurately?
  • do you need to apply for a licence to sell alcohol, for entertainment, for selling hot food and drink late at night, or selling food on the street?

This is not intended as a complete list of all the elements you must consider when setting up a new business. It is your responsibility as a business operator to ensure that you comply with all relevant pieces of legislation.

Safer Food, Better Business

Food businesses are legally required to have a documented food safety management system in place. Safer Food, Better Business  is a free, easy to use food safety management pack produced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The pack aims to help small businesses put in place food safety management procedures and to follow food hygiene regulations.