Advice for starting a new food business

When starting up a new food business it's very important to get things right from the start - it will make it much easier for you to run your business and could save you costly changes in the future.

Before opening your business, you must carefully consider whether you have suitable premises for running a food business.

You should also take into account:

Food premises

Your premises must be kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition, and must be easy to clean and disinfect. The layout, design and construction of food premises must allow good food hygiene practices - including against contamination and in particular pest control. 

Structures, fixings and work surfaces - must be in a sound condition and easy to clean and disinfect where necessary. They need to be smooth, washable and in a good state of repair. Unsealed wood does not comply. 

Ceilings - must be designed and constructed to prevent the build-up of dirt, condensation, mould and the shedding of particles. 

Windows -  if they can be opened to the outside of the premises, they must be fitted with insect-proof screens that can be easily removed for cleaning. 

Doors - must be easy to clean and disinfect where necessary. A variety of smooth impervious surfaces are available, and a cleanable paint or sealed finish would comply. If doors are left open they should be fitted with insect-proof screens.

Equipment that comes into contact with food - must be kept in good repair and be easy to clean and disinfect where necessary. 

Temperature controlled storage conditions - where these are necessary, they should have sufficient capacity for maintaining food at appropriate temperatures and be designed to allow those temperatures to be monitored, and where necessary recorded. 

Ventilation - there must be suitable and sufficient natural or mechanical ventilation, preferably above the main cooking equipment. 

Lighting - there must be adequate natural and or artificial lighting. 

Wash hand basins - you must provide a suitable number of wash hand basins for the size and layout of your business. They must be clean and well maintained, with materials for cleaning hands and for hygienic drying need provided. It is recommended that you provide liquid soap, and either disposable paper towels, roller paper cabinet towels, or warm air dryers for drying hands.

The wash hand basins must be close to toilets, with separate wash hand basins for food handlers. Wash hand basins must only be used for washing hands, and not for food preparation or cleaning equipment.  

Facilities for washing equipment - you must provide facilities for cleaning and disinfecting work tools and equipment. Suitable facilities include sink with a supply of hot and cold or appropriately mixed running water with detergents and disinfectants for manual equipment cleaning, sterilising sinks, and dishwashers.

Facilities for washing food - separate sinks should be provided for food preparation. The sinks must have a supply of hot and cold running water which is of drinking quality. In smaller lower risk operations one sink may be used for both equipment and food washing, provided that both activities can be done effectively and without a risk to food safety. 

Toilets for food handlers - there must be an adequate number of flush lavatories available (connected to an effective drainage system). Toilets must not lead directly into rooms where food is handled - there should be two doors with an intervening space between the WC and food room (for example a lobby). Food should not be stored in this space, and toilets must have adequate natural or mechanical ventilation. 

Toilets for customers -  an adequate number of toilets must be provided for members of the public eating or drinking food in newly built restaurants and cafes. If the business is predominately a takeaway where seating is limited, you will not be expected to provide toilets for customers.

Drainage - must be adequate for the purpose intended and designed and constructed to avoid the risk of contamination. 

Cleaning products and disinfectants - must not to be stored in areas where food is handled. 

Where necessary, adequate changing facilities for personnel are to be provided.  

Planning permission and building control

Planning permission - make sure the premises you intend to operate from have the necessary planning consent, if not you may need to apply for a change of use. Find out about planning permission.

Building Regulations - if you intend to carry out structural works to the premises you may need Building Regulations approval, even if you don't need planning permission. Find out more about Building Regulations.


You must make sure that all staff that handle food are supervised and trained in proper food hygiene practices in-line with the work they carry out. Food hygiene courses are available from a variety of providers.

Personal hygiene

Every person working in a food handling area is to maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness and wear suitable and, where necessary, protective clothing.

Business waste

You need to arrange for the waste from your business to be collected and disposed of properly. Our trade waste team can provide a regular collection from your premises, tailored to meet your needs. If your business produces waste cooking oil it must be stored properly - no oil is allowed to spill, and it has to be collected by an authorised carrier. Find out about dealing with food and cooking oil waste.

Statutory nuisance

Make sure that your premises are not causing a statutory nuisance to neighbouring properties.  This could be because of smoke, dust, smells, steam or noise coming from your premises, or by allowing a build-up of waste.

Help and advice

The Food Standards Agency website has lots of useful information for people thinking of starting a food business:

If you require any additional advice please contact the food safety team.

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Last updated on 22/04/2024