How to run a small food business

If you are looking for a new business adventure within the food industry, it’s wise to start with smaller steps. A small food business, whether it’s a kiosk, a café, or a restaurant, needs careful consideration on how to handle, store and serve the food that you sell.

It’s important that when dealing with food and customers that you follow the EU law and legislation surrounding food standards. It’s vital that you keep your customers safe and that your small food business doesn’t encourage animal cruelty in the food industry.

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:

Where to start

You’ll need to register your business with the environmental health service 28 days before you open – this registration is completely free and vital if you are running your business from your home or your own premises. 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. Before you open, it is also wise to do your homework and become familiar with the EU major 14 allergens list, which is easily accessible. Whether you are running a small food truck business or a large restaurant, the same food hygiene regulations apply.


When food is on sale, it is important that all items are labelled, advertised and presented correctly so that the customer is not mislead in any way about the product. This is stipulated by Article 16 of The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002. Labelling should clearly stipulate the product for sale, as well as address any allergen information contained within the food on the packaging.

Sourcing 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.

Supplier reliability

Choosing a reliable supplier could be the difference between success and failure. It will have an impact upon the safety and quality of the food that you serve to your consumers. 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 the foods that you have been supplied, you have the right to reject them. You should also contact your supplier immediately in these scenarios.


Cross-contamination should be avoided at all costs. Raw foods and cooked foods should always be kept separate. Cross-contamination can 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 prevent cross-contamination, your food should always be stored correctly. Foods should always be stored and labelled correctly. 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.