I want to start a food business
Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice
Our Environmental Health officers are able to provide food safety advice and guidance to businesses to support them as they seek new opportunities during these exceptional times. This includes starting new home delivery services. For guidance, please contact us.
All food businesses need to comply with the Food Safety Act 1990 therefore it is vital to get things right when setting up a new food business. There are a number of elements that need to be considered:
The first consideration should be whether the premises you are intending to set up your food business in has the correct planning permission and building regulations approval. Our planning department can give you advice on this. If your premises is in a conservation area or is a listed building you will need to discuss your plans with them. You can contact our planning team on 01424 451090.
Food Hygiene Registration
Most food businesses need to register with the Environmental Health Team if they are intending to sell food or drink to the public or another entity. This should be done at least 28 days before you begin trading. Registration is free and the registration form is available online.
Once we have confirmed receipt of your registration you can legally trade while you wait for you new food business inspection to take place.
View our food information packs below for detailed guidance on food hygiene.
Exemptions from registering
You are not considered a food business if you do some occasional catering for events such as catering for your own private party or taking your turn to provide hot drinks and cakes for work colleagues. Childminders may also not need to register with us and registration is now handled by Ofsted.
You may also be excluded from registration if you don't sell to the final consumer, namely factories, importers, warehouses and transport companies.
If you are uncertain if you need to register you should contact us before you begin trading for advice.
Approved food businesses
Although most food businesses need to register with their local authority, some types of food business need to submit a different application form to become an Approved Food Business. This applies if you are involved in the manufacture or production of any of the following:
- Dairy Products
- Egg Products
- Egg Packing
- Fish Products
- Shellfish Purification
- Meat Products
- Minced Meat and Meat Preparation
To apply for approval please contact us to be sent a form. Once your form is received will contact you to discuss your application in more detail and to inspect your premises.
You must provide allergen information to consumers and handle and manage food allergens adequately in your business. To find out more please visit the Food Standards Agency website.
In addition to obtaining the correct planning permissions you also need to consider the following structural requirements, specific to food businesses, when you choose your premises:
- All surfaces should be clean and easy to keep clean. This not only relates to your work surfaces but also your walls, ceilings, windows and doors.
- You need to have adequate washing facilities, including hot and cold water and separate sinks and hand wash basins.
- You need to have adequate ventilation, this can be as simple as opening windows or a ventilation system. Remember, this must be able to be kept clean.
- You need to have adequate lighting, either natural or artificial.
- You need to have adequate drainage.
The Food Standards Agency have produced the Starting Up booklet, which is a great starting point for new businesses and can be downloaded from their Starting a Food Business pages. This booklet is a simple guide to the regulations and gives you practical advice on how to make sure you comply.
If you want to sell goods or services on the streets of the Borough, its parks, open spaces or seafront then you will require some sort of permission and there will often be a fee or charge payable. View our hygiene requirements for street traders or make an application for street trading through our Licensing team.
If you plan to sell hot food or hot drinks to customers between the hours of 11pm and 5am you will also need to apply for a Premises Licence for Late Night Refreshment. Hotels and B&Bs are exempt from this requirement and you do not need a licence if you are only serving your own staff. You will also need a Premises Licence if you intend to sell alcohol
Contact our Licensing team for more information.
You may have to pay increased rates if you use part or all of your property for a business activity. Contact the Revenues Section of the council on 01424 451541 or email email@example.com for advice.
You should consider people with food allergies and have some kind of warning on your food. In addition you should consider a suitable shelf life. If you are not selling direct to the final consumer but to a caterer to sell on you will require more detailed labelling and you are advised to contact the local trading standards agency (East Sussex County Council) on 01323 418200 for advice.
You are required by law to keep a record of where you bought your ingredients (the items, who from and when) for traceability purposes and if supplying other retailers/caterers to sell your food on you must keep records of who, when and what you supplied them. This is in case there is a food alert and you need to identify where you bought food from or you need to withdraw the food you sold.
Health and Safety
You should consider the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 when starting a new business. See our Health & Safety pages for more information.
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