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A guide to running your own small food business


May 28, 2017

Business is booming, especially for street food – over 3.5 billion people are eating it, and search volumes have jumped up by 80% between 2014 and 2016. It’s clear, street food is here to stay. Thailand have been familiar with it for years now, but now the UK have latched on too, and it seems they have no intentions to let go.

Street food is just one of many successful food businesses right now. Whether it’s a kiosk, a café, or a restaurant, when you’re running a small food business for the first time, it’s important that you understand how to handle, store and serve the food that you sell. Here, we give you the basics.

Before opening your doors….

The grand opening is an exciting time for any new business owner, but before you open your doors to the public, if your business will be running from your home, or premises, then you need to register the business with the environmental health service.

Don’t worry, this isn’t another cost that needs to be factored in. Registration is free, and must be done 28 days before you open.   

Present your food

Make your food look good. Presentation is so important with food – not only to get your customers to buy it but for the safety of your customers too. Labelling should be correct on all foods that you plan to sell. Labelling should clearly stipulate the product for sale, as well as address any allergen information contained within the food on the packaging.

Look for a reliable supplier

Going into business with an unreliable supplier can have a knock-on, negative effect across the whole of your business. Supplier reliability will have an impact upon the safety and quality of the food that you serve to your consumers. You should check produce carefully, and 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?

Are you suspicious of some items? Don’t hesitate to call your supplier straight away and question your suspicions. You are well within your rights to reject items.

Keeping track of your food

All food businesses and operators should intend to keep records of food, food substances, and the food-producing animals that have helped towards supplying consumers with food, which is stipulated by Article 18 of The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002. 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.

How to avoid cross-contamination

The safety of your customers is top priority within a food business. One bad review from a customer can ruin your company’s reputation. When foods such as raw eggs, meat and poultry come into contact with cooked foods, this can cause cross-contamination. This is likely to occur when foods drip onto a clean surface, utensil or food product during the preparation process.

You should also make yourself aware of the EU major 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 keep control over cross-contamination, there are a few ground rules to follow:

  • 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.


By Emily