Last updated: 18.02.20

Starting a Food Business: what you need to know

Getting your food start-up off the ground can be quite exciting, taking your ideas out into the world and serving up some delicious dishes. But beyond having your ingredients and staff organised, you need to look into the regulations you need to comply with and ensure you’ve ticked off every point on this list before you open your doors.


Wherever you’re planning on opening your food business, it all starts with talking shop. Having the right premises for your business not only means thinking about location and footfall, but also that it complies with the regulations set out by the FSA. The structure will need to be in good repair and condition, be free from pests and allow you to prepare food safely. This includes having an adequate amount of wash basins for staff and hygienic hand washing facilities, as well as hot and cold running water. This may all sound simple, but getting the basics right ensures that you won’t get tripped up by issues with your building later down the line which might be difficult to fix.


In order to properly prepare your food, you’ll need to properly equip your kitchen with the right implements and instruments to safely create and cook any food you’ll be handling. All equipment must be in good working order, with any repairs carried out conforming to safe standards, and each bit of equipment will need frequently cleaning and disinfecting to avoid contaminants.


All food businesses are required to have robust facilities for efficiently storing and disposing of food waste. This means considering how much waste you will be creating and what type of waste management system you will need in order to avoid attracting pests. Common pests which are attracted to food waste include birds, rodents and insects, all of which carry serious risks and should be given proper consideration.


Whether you’re planning on bringing in staff or running things solo, anyone working in the food and hospitality industry need proper training around key areas. Food hygiene and safety training is essential to all food businesses, and should be completed prior to opening your business. This will give you comprehensive knowledge of food hazards, allergen awareness, HACCP and more, allowing your business to operate safely and avoid posing any risks to customers. Health and safety training is also a key element of internal training that needs to be undertaken, such as a fire safety training course, which will ensure the safety of all staff members on site.


All training that you do will need to provide you with a proper certification to prove that you’ve undertaken a course which conforms to the high standards required of the industry. The Virtual College Level 2 & 3 Food Safety and Hygiene courses are certified by City & Guilds and come with either a self-printed certificate or a mailed, seal-embossed one which can be displayed onsite or filed within your records to show the commitment you’ve made to upholding food hygiene standards within your business.

Registering your business

Once you’re all ready to go, you need to register your food business before you start trading to obtain your food business license. This should ideally be done 28 days prior to opening, but if you’ve already started trading without being registered then you should do this as soon as possible to avoid any issues or penalties.

If you’re starting your business soon then make sure you’ve completed each point we’ve covered here, but don’t worry if there’s still some bits to cover. Virtual College offers a range of online training courses which can fulfil your training requirements, like our Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate and health and safety training courses, all of which can be completed at your own pace no matter where you are.

We also have some great resources online to help you adhere to the food safety regulations. Check out our food premises self-inspection check list, and a guide on achieving a five-star food hygiene rating.