Advice and Guidance – Starting Up a Food Business

This advice is for those people who want to set up a catering business or take over a business from someone else – for example a restaurant, café or even a catering business that you run from home.

When starting up a new food business it is very important to get things right at the start because it will make it much easier for you to run your business well in the future.

Failure to get it right could lead to complaints, food poisoning and safety issues which could lead to a range of enforcement action being taken.

Registering your business and licenses

If you are starting a new business, there’s a legal requirement that you must register with us at least 28 days before opening. There is no charge for registration. You can do this online.

You will also need a licence if you want to:

  • Sell alcohol by retail sales
  • Sell hot food between 11pm and 5am
  • Provide entertainment eg live music
  • Sell food from a stall or vehicle on the street

Your premises – what’s needed 

You need to make sure that your premises comply with the law – they must be kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition – and allow you to prepare safe food.

You need to think about:

  • Hand washing facilities and the provision of toilets
  • Changing facilities
  • Floors, walls, ceilings and windows
  • Lighting, ventilation and drainage
  • Surfaces
  • Temperature control
  • Facilities for washing food
  • Cleaning and disinfection equipment and facilities
  • Equipment
  • Waste

You can find further information on all of these items on

More detailed guidance notes for businesses on safety and hygiene legislation can be found at Food Standards Agency – hygiene and food safety guidance.

Managing Food Safety – procedures, staff and food hygiene

This is what you need to do to make sure that the food you make and sell is safe to eat.

To do this you must put in place food safety management procedures. The Food Standards Agency has produced Safer Food Better Business packs for caterers or food retailers to help you with this. They are free, easy to use, and can help you manage food safety and comply with the law. Visit Food Standards Agency HACCP page for more information.

Your Staff

You must ensure that any member of staff who handles food is supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene. They must understand the main food hygiene issues before they start work:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Chilling
  • Cross contamination
  • Personal hygiene
  • Staff illness

Staff can attend a formal training course, gain on the job training or gain their experience and understanding in other ways. There are a range of trainers and course providers who operate in Lancashire and across the UK.

In managing the safety of your food you need to think about:

  • Your suppliers
  • Traceability
  • Storage
  • Pest control
  • Stock rotation
  • Withdrawing food from sale
  • Transport

Describing food, labels and allergens

You must describe food accurately on menus, information and adverts. There are also 14 allergens that need to be identified if they are used as ingredients in any dishes that you sell or provide. 

Trading Standards officers look at the composition, adulteration and labelling of foodstuffs. If you need advice on matters relating to trading standards please contact Trading Standards.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

Burnley Council has signed up to the national scheme run by the Food Standards Agency. We display the hygiene ratings of all our food businesses on the national website. The scheme provides information on food hygiene standards to help people choose where to eat out or shop for food.

The rating reflects the conditions found at the time of the last inspection and does not reflect the quality of the food or the standards of service.

Health and Safety, and Fire Safety

You must work in a way that protects you and your employees and your customers. The main risks are from slips and trips, contact dermatitis and manual handling accidents.

There are rules on:

  • management of workplace safety
  • standards for staff welfare
  • work equipment
  • manual handling
  • personal protective equipment 
  • display screen equipment

You must carry out a fire risk assessment and take precautions to protect yourself, your staff and your customers. For more information visit Fire Safety.

Other useful information and contacts