Setting up a food business

Setting up a food business

If you have decided to set up a food business you need to plan carefully to ensure the safety of the food you are selling, and that you meet legal requirements.

Before you begin, you should make sure:

  • you have completed an online food registration
  • anyone handling food has received appropriate food hygiene training
  • you have a documented food safety management system in place that is appropriate to the nature and size of your business

Please also remember you must:

  • have any necessary planning permission for your premises (including your home)
  • not start operating before we have processed your application

Registering a food business

If your business is located in Newcastle then you must register with us - for free - at least 28 days before starting to sell food.  

You may also need approval depending on the type of food you are preparing or selling.

More information about how to register or apply for approval can be found on our food registration page.

Once you have registered your food business it will be subject to food safety inspections.

Food hygiene training

Before you start operating you must ensure that all staff who are handling food receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene.  This is a legal requirement.

This training should be equivalent to a:

  • level two qualification in food safety and hygiene for food handlers
  • at least level three in supervising food safety and hygiene for supervisors and managers

However, in the UK, food handlers don’t have to hold a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food. 

You must however be able to demonstrate that they have received instructions or supervision through:

  • on-the-job training
  • self-study
  • relevant prior experience

You will need to show what you have done when asked by an environmental health officer.

Free online food safety training is offered by the Food Standards Agency.

Food safety management system (FSMS)

All food business operators must have in place a written food safety management system. 

Through this you look at what could go wrong with food safety in your business and identify what you must do to ensure that any food you produce or handle is safe to eat. 

Your FSMS should be based on the advice on food safety management found on the Food Standards Agency website.

Your analysis of your business need not be complicated however, the documents required depends on the size and nature of your business.

Before you begin writing your FSMS you should ensure that either you or someone in your business has received training or has enough knowledge of what your business does.

You will need to keep records that show that you are following your procedures, and these will be asked for when an officer visits.

You should also ensure that you regularly review your FSMS to make sure that your processes and documents are up to date, especially when changes are made (e.g. change in menu).

Safer food, better business

The Food Standards Agency offers a free guide to food safety regulations and management procedures for small businesses.

Did you know?

Warm Spaces

If you are providing a Warm Space for the community this winter, please see the following guidance regarding Food Safety and Health and Safety.


Thank you for providing a ‘warm space’ to the community. We very much appreciate your work in doing so, and this advice is intended to support your activity, not get in your way.


Food: If providing food in a regular and repeated way, even if not charging, registration is required:


If the food you are supplying is simply a hot drink and biscuits, registration is all that may be required. For higher risk activities, such as regularly preparing meals, a member of the Commercial Team may get in touch with you.


If you are not providing food, or if you are allowing guests to eat their own food, including using your appliances (kettle, microwave, etc) then such activities are not covered by food legislation for the most part. You will need to ensure the appliances are safe for use, see If you are concerned about this, please contact the Commercial Team at for guidance.

Any areas used for food preparation must be kept clean, and ensure that any cleaning materials are used and stored as per instructions by the manufacturer.


If your food offering involves more complex food preparation, the food handling staff/ volunteers should be trained in food safety matters. This could include on-the-job training, or could be a more formal certificated course. Such courses can be widely found online or ran by awarding bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), RSPH, and Highfield training.


General Information on Setting up a Food Business can be found at the Food Standards Agency Website, see


COVID-19: There are currently no specific legal requirements, beyond general Health and Safety responsibilities, around COVID. As the precautions which were in place for the last few years have largely been lifted, the NHS has warned that we are likely to see an increase in flu and other respiratory viruses. This may be a particular issue for older people.

See further advice at: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support - GOV.UK (

I understand that balancing ventilation and keeping the space warm may be challenging. ‘Purge ventilation’ may be appropriate for ‘warm spaces’. At the end of the day, or between different groups using the space, open all doors and windows as much as possible for ten minutes, to flush stale air out of the space and allow fresh air in. You may find the HSE guidance around temperature and ventilation helpful


Thank you once more for the support you are providing our community this winter.