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Start-Up Guides: Running a Small Food Business

30th June 2017 Print

When you’re running a small food business for the first time, whether it’s a kiosk, a café or a restaurant, you’re going to need to know how to handle, store and serve the food that you sell. 

In conjunction with EU law, it’s important that you understand and know the 14 allergens list so that you can keep your customers safe and free from any allergens that may harm them contained within the foods that you serve. Erudus, a company which stores and shares food labelling information within a data pool for customers’ benefit, has helped to put together this start-up guide for those aiming to run their own small food business:

Before you start-up

No matter if you’re planning to start a catering business within premises or if it’s ran from home, a mobile or temporary food stall, or a stand-alone café or restaurant, you’ll need to register your business with the environmental health service at your local authority 28 days before opening. Don’t worry, registration is free. Just remember that if you have more than one premises then you’ll need to register them all, even after you have registered one under the same name. 

Presentation of foods

Article 16 of The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 stipulates that any foods presented for sale within a premises should not mislead consumers, and neither should the labelling, advertising and presentation of that food. Labelling should clearly stipulate the product for sale, as well as address any allergen information contained within the food on the packaging. 


Article 18 of The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 makes the requirement that food business operators keep records of the foods, food substances and the food-producing animals that have contributed towards supplying that food business. A food business should also state when and where they have supplied other businesses with produce, if they have done so. This information should be stored until the necessary authorities require it, should they ever need it. 


Depending on a supplier’s reliability, this will have an impact upon the safety and quality of the food that they supply to you. By checking produce carefully, you should aim to ensure that all the produce that you receive from a supplier has been stored, processed and handled safely before it is in your care. Some other things that you should consider when food is delivered to your business are as follows:

1. Are chilled and frozen foods cold enough?

2. Is the packaging damaged?

3. Is it what you ordered?

If you are suspicious of any of the following once a delivery has been made, you have the right to reject a delivery. You should also contact your supplier immediately in these scenarios. 


Cross-contamination occurs when foods such as raw eggs, meat and poultry come into contact with cooked foods. This is likely to occur when foods drip onto a clean surface, utensil or food product during the preparation process. As well as this, hands can also spread cross-contamination and bacteria so it’s important that hands are thoroughly cleaned after handling raw food produce. You should also remain aware of the 14 allergens list; you may have customers that have allergens – so you should make sure that you know what foods come into contact with each other when preparing foods to avoid allergen cross-contamination. 

To help with this, foods should be stored and labelled correctly in kitchens so that it is clear where and what food is being stored at any one time. When preparing food, stick to the following rules:

- Keep raw meat/poultry and ready-to-eat foods separate at all times, including packaging material for ready-to-eat-food. 

- Wash your hands after handling meat/poultry, fish, eggs and unwashed fruit and vegetables. 

- Clean and wash work surfaces and equipment before and when handling these foods. 

- Prepare and store allergens in different areas of a kitchen and when serving them to the public. 

- Keep raw produce below ready-to-eat food in the fridge, or in a different fridge if this is possible. 

- Attempt to educate any new members of staff to the business on cross-contamination, allergen contamination and food hygiene.