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Starting or registering a food business

If you are considering opening a business, or taking over an existing business, it is important that you register your business with our Food and Safety team 28 days before you start to trade. This is because the law requires that food businesses and other premises where food is handled or stored are registered with or formally approved by the local authority.

Information about starting up a food business is available on the Food Standards Agency and the GOV.UK websites. It will help you understand the physical and practical requirements that have to be met when running a food business and food hygiene legislation. It is better to get it right before you open than to have to make expensive changes afterwards.

Food business registration

Registering as a food business operator is free of charge. Once you have registered your business you may start to trade as you do not have to wait for an inspection.

Food business approval

Manufacturers handling products of animal origin may need to be approved by the local authority or the Food Standards Agency, rather than registered. If your business requires approval you are not allowed to trade until your application has been processed and you have been issued with an approval document.

Food Standards Agency publications

The Food Standards Agency produces a wide range of publications for food businesses which can be downloaded from the Food Standards Agency website. Two booklets that will be of interest to new food businesses are featured below:

Starting up - your first steps to running a catering business

This booklet is aimed at people who are setting up a restaurant, café, or other catering business, whether they are taking over a business that already exists, or starting a new one. It includes details on registering food premises, licences that may be required, and regulations on premises, equipment, staff, transport and other areas. The content has been updated to reflect changes in food hygiene regulations.

Food Hygiene - a guide for businesses

This booklet is for restaurants, cafés and other catering businesses, as well as shops selling food. It tells you about the key laws that affect your business, what they require you to do and how they are enforced. The booklet also explains about good food hygiene practice, which is essential for you to sell food that is safe to eat - to protect your business and obey the law.

Industry guides produced by the food industry

A series of guides has been produced by the food industry on how you can comply with your legal obligations with suggestions for best industry practice. The Food Standards Agency recognises these guides.

The use of these guides is voluntary and you may demonstrate compliance with the hygiene legislation in other ways. However, if you are following the guidance in a recognised industry guide, this will be taken into account when assessing compliance with the legislation.

This guide contains:

  • The requirements of 'How to comply with the law'
  • Guidance to achieve the top score in the national Hygiene Ratings Scheme
  • Requirements for premises and equipment
  • Food hygiene and safety procedures
  • Food safety management procedures
  • Hazard analysis and critical control points systems
  • Advice on training requirements for different levels of staff
  • Best practice arrangements that your business may choose to implement beyond the scope of the law
  • Advice on how to comply with the allergen requirements of the Food Information for Consumers Regulation 2014

The Food Standards Agency range of industry guides includes:

  • Retail: food industry guide to good hygiene practice
  • Sandwich bars and similar food service outlets: food industry guide to good hygiene practice
  • Wholesale distributors: food industry guide to good hygiene practice
  • Bottled water: food industry guide to good hygiene practice
  • Whitefish processors: food industry guide to good hygiene practice
  • Flour milling: food industry guide to good hygiene
  • Spirit drinks: industry guide to good hygiene practice

Business support and advice

Business Companion provides information for businesses and individuals that need to know about trading standards and consumer protection legislation.

If you are in the non-retail sector, or need further business advice, you can contact Suffolk Trading Standards on 01473 264859 or email tradingstandards@suffolk.gov.uk