Running a food business


Get more information on what you need to do as a food business and everything you need to do to start a new food business.

The premises you choose for your business must:

  • comply with the necessary regulations
  • allow you to prepare food safely
  • be kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition
  • Be set up to allow you to follow good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and pest control.

Food businesses must register with the council at least 28 days before opening - registration is free. You can do this online Registration applies to most types of food business, including catering businesses run from home and mobile or temporary premises, such as stalls and vans.

The main purpose of the registration process is to let the council know where premises are and what type of business is being operated. The relevant local authority can ensure that every premises receives an inspection and resources can be allocated and targeted in the appropriate areas.

You can do this:

  • Online
  • If you have more than one premises, you will need to register all of them.

You can find out more information about registering as a food business on:

You need to inform your customers if any food products you sell or provide contain any of the main 14 allergens as an ingredient. The 14 allergens are:

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten – including wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan), rye, barley and oats
  • crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
  • mustard
  • tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)

Natasha's Law and PPDS

Food business operators in the retail and catering sector are required to provide allergen information and follow labelling rules as set out in food law. This means that you must: 

  • provide allergen information to the consumer for both pre-packed and non-prepacked food or drink
  • handle and manage food allergens adequately
  • make sure that your staff are trained about allergens

From 1st October 2021 any business that produces Prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) food will be required to label it with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list. This is known as Natasha’s Law and you can find out more information here.

Packaging and Labelling

All food is subject to general food labelling requirements and any labelling provided must be accurate and not misleading. More information is available on the FSA website and this free food labelling course.

All prepacked food requires a food label that displays certain mandatory information including:

  • Name of the food
  • List of ingredients
  • Allergen information
  • Quantitative declaration of ingredients (QUID)

Distance Selling

Distance selling means any selling that happens without face-to-face contact with the consumer. For more information visit the FSA’s website.

Methods of selling include:

  • online
  • text messaging
  • phone calls
  • interactive TV
  • mail order

Find out how new Brexit rules apply to doing business with Europe by visiting Brexit Guidance for Businesses.

Use the Brexit checker to get a personalised list of actions.

You'll probably have to pay business rates if you use a building or part of a building for non-domestic purposes for example if you are running a food business.

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic properties, like:

  • shops
  • offices
  • pubs
  • warehouses
  • factories
  • holiday rental homes or guest houses

For further information regarding business rates in Wolverhampton, including how to pay, please visit our Rates pages.

If you handle and prepare both raw and ready-to-eat (RTE) foods within the same premises, you must have an effective procedure in place to prevent cross-contamination.

These include designating specific surfaces for the handling and preparation of RTE food ('clean area') and raw/unwashed food ('dirty area') on a permanent basis. Make sure all staff are aware of this designation and adhere to it. You may find it helpful to label these areas. More information is available at:

It is important that you use an appropriate disinfectant/anti-bacterial chemical that meets the requirements of British Standards BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 to disinfect food contact surfaces and equipment. You can find a current list of appropriate disinfectants at Disinfectant Info .

If you are responsible for developing and maintaining a business's food safety management procedures, you are legally required to have had training on food safety and hygiene to do this.

Many food businesses prefer that food handlers hold a food hygiene certificate. However, can be learned by training while working, self-study or relevant previous experience.

Food hygiene certificates don’t have an expiry date. However, refresher courses are available.

More information on training providers is available:

You can obtain food hygiene information from the Food Standards Agency Website at:

All 'food safety management procedures' should follow the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).

HACCP is a system that helps you look at how to handle food and introduce procedures to make sure the food produced is safe to eat.

You must also:

  • keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures
  • review your procedures if you change what you produce or how you work

The procedures can be applied flexibly for different types and sizes of food businesses. Your records must include any procedures in place to make sure food is safe to eat.

'Safer Food Better Business' is a free food safety management system created by the Food Standards Agency. It is designed to help small food businesses manage food safety and comply with the law. The pack can be downloaded from Safer Food Better Business or you can purchase it from Trade with Confidence .

If you are running a Cake Maker Business from home you may find this simplified HACCP more appropriate.

More about HACCP

Many people have an occasional need to prepare food at home for events such as parties and wedding receptions. Some also prepare food regularly at home as a small business. This second group must notify the Environmental Health Department by completing a food premises registration form and an officer will then contact you.

In order to minimise the risks associated with the contamination of food you need to follow the same food hygiene rules as any caterer. Pay particular attention to:

  • Controlling E.coli
  • Understanding of Allergens
  • Food Safety Management Systems/HACCP/SFBB

However in a home environment the following advice is also applicable:

  • Clean the kitchen, preparation and storage areas before starting
  • When preparing food for your business try to undertake this separately from your ‘home life’ e.g. dirty laundry, pets, children
  • Do not prepare food if you, or any of your household members have been ill with diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • Take extra care when preparing food for young children, pregnant women, the elderly or those who are sick.
  • Transport perishable and high risk foods in insulated containers.
  • Although it is not a legal requirement to have a separate wash hand basin within a home catering environment you still need to wash your hands regularly particularly before touching food, after using the toilet and often during food preparation.

Further guidance providing on how to get compliant and protect your customers when starting a food business from home can be found here

If you are a Cake Maker from home please see the information leaflet and the more simplified Cake Makers HACCP

If your business sells or proposes to sell alcohol, hot food after 11pm or have entertainment, the premises will need to have the appropriate licence. If you operate a mobile food premises which trades on a regular pitch, either on the highway or private land, within Wolverhampton you will need to obtain a street traders licence.

To find out more or to contact the Councils licensing department please visit our Licensing section

Is Your Vehicle For Selling Food and Drink?

The vehicle you use to sell food must be suitable for use as a catering or food sales unit. This normally means using purpose-built vehicles. The vehicle must be of adequate size to allow food to be prepared hygienically. Where food is sold from stalls or barrows they must be constructed so they are easy to clean and so that food is protected from the risk of contamination from passing traffic and the public.

Do you need a licence?

Please visit City of Wolverhampton Council - Street Trading for more information.

Comply with all relevant Food Hygiene:

You will need to register your business and meet relevant food hygiene requirements, all can be found on this page.

Effective pest control is essential to keep pests out of your premises and prevent them from spreading harmful bacteria. If there are pests at your food premises they are likely to damage and contaminate food. If discovered during an inspection, or as a result of a complaint, this could lead to your premises being closed immediately, costing you money and potentially ruining the reputation of your business.

As a food business proprietor it is your responsibility to have appropriate arrangements in place to effectively prevent pests from entering.

The three main groups of pests that are encountered in food businesses are:

  • Rodents - rats and mice.
  • Insects - cockroaches, beetles, ants and flies.
  • Birds - pigeons etc

The legislation requires that businesses must ensure that the layout, design, construction and size of food premises permit good food hygiene practices, including protection against external sources of contamination such as pests.

The legislation also requires that adequate procedures be in place to ensure pests are controlled. Setting up a pest control contract is good practice, but remember that the ultimate responsibility for any pest problem lies with you, as the proprietor of the food business. Laying of baits and poisons should be left to the professionals however you can and should carry out visual checks of the premises for signs of pest presence.

Before you start a food business it is advisable that you contact your local planning department to check that the premises has the correct planning permission for its proposed use or find out how you can apply for a change of use.  Please, see our Planning section for more information.

Cooking Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed. Always check the advice on food packaging and follow the cooking instructions provided. For more information please visit

Chilling Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing. For more information please visit and

Chilling down Hot Food Harmful bacteria can grow in food that is not chilled down as quickly as possible. For more information please visit

Hot Holding It is very important to keep food hot until serving to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. For more information please visit

Current legislation Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a "Duty of Care" on commercial premises to ensure that waste produced by (or at) business premises is collected and disposed of by a registered or licenced waste carrier or waste collection authority. This includes waste from any commercial activity run from a household. You can find more information on your responsibilities for food waste and commercial or business waste

There are many different waste management companies operating collection services locally including: Council Waste and Other Waste Carriers