Business development 29 June 2017

Here’s all you need to know before running a small food business

VAT on tacos
Get to know the EU’s 14 allergens list to keep food safe

You need to know how to handle, store and serve food when running a small food business. Writing for Business Advice on behalf of food labelling firm Erudus, Andrew Mills, tells would-be food entrepreneurs all they need to know before starting out.

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 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. Here’s a helpful startup guide for those aiming to be running a small food business.

Before you startup

No matter if you’re planning on running a small food 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 venture 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 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.

Traceability

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

Suppliers

Depending on a supplier’s reliability, this will have an impact upon the safety and quality of the food 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. Here are some other things you should consider when food is delivered to your business.

(1) Are chilled and frozen foods cold enough?

(2) Is the packaging damaged?

(3) Is it what you ordered?

If, as you’re running a small food business, 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

When foods such as raw eggs, meat and poultry come into contact with cooked foods, cross-contamination occurs. This is likely to happen when foods drip onto a clean surface, utensil or food product during the preparation process.

As well as this, your 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 running a small food business, stick to the following health and safety 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 and 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

Andrew Mills is a copywriter working for food labelling firm Erudus

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