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Starting up a food business

If you are thinking of setting up a food business, there is a lot to consider before you can serve your first customer. These basic requirements are the same for all businesses, whether they are large manufacturing plants, mobile food vans or a small caterer working from home.

Find out more using the links below:

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Register with us

At least 28 days before opening up you must register with the council's environmental health team in the district where your business is based - for mobile food vendors this will be the authority where your vehicle is stored.

Registration is free and an officer will contact you to discuss your business and to arrange a visit to make sure everything is safe.

Download a registration form here

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Comply with the law

The premises and equipment you want to use must be constructed properly and must comply with the law. The basic structural requirements for premises where food is handled are quite simple. These include:

  • Rooms must be kept clean. Walls, floors & surfaces must be smooth and water resistant.
  • There must be hand washing facilities and suitable refuse arrangements.
  • Equipment must be suitable, clean and well maintained.

Some businesses will have specific structural requirements. If you are converting or making changes to a building in order to open a food business you are strongly advised to speak to a food officer before commencing work to avoid any costly mistakes.

For home caterers, the leaflet Running a Business from home may give you some pointers on structural requirements.

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Systems and processes

You must have documented systems to make sure the food you sell is good quality and safe to eat.

The law now requires all food businesses to have a recorded safe food management system (also known as HACCP). This system will show that you have considered the risks posed by your business and put in place ways to reduce or remove the risk.

The Food Standards Agency has created a pack called 'Safer Food Better Business' (SFBB) which is intended to act as a template for most small catering and retail operations. The safe food system will be discussed with you at your initial inspection, but more information on SFBB can be downloaded from the Food Standards Agency website.

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Staff training

If you need any advice on structural requirements for food businesses, food handling, or the current laws concerning food, our commercial team will be happy to help.

If you have any questions, please contact 01543 308744 and ask to speak to a food officer, or email

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Other advice

The Food Standards Agency also produces a large number of leaflets, posters and information packs which provide useful start-up information for food businesses. Many are free of charge and available in various languages.

You may find the booklet Starting up - your first steps to running a catering business is a good place to begin.

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Phone our contact centre: 01543 308 000
District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 6YY

If you need to contact a team direct, please visit our contacts page for team phone numbers and email addresses.

Opening times

Our main reception at Frog Lane in Lichfield is open Monday - Friday, 8.45am - 5.15pm. Our phone lines close at 5pm.