Food safety FAQs for businesses

Read our frequently asked questions about food safety for businesses.

What will happen if an inspector finds problems with food safety at my business?

This depends on the seriousness of the problem. Minor contraventions will result in the inspector advising on how best to rectify the situation. More serious matters will be dealt with more formally, ranging from the service of notice to possible prosecution for very serious offences. The division has an enforcement policy(pdf, 125KB) that sets out the range of factors and actions likely to be taken to ensure that businesses comply with legal requirements.

Will I require planning permission to open a food business?

This depends on the type of food premise you wish to operate. Please see the Planning Guidance for Food and Drink Establishments(pdf, 560KB) for general guidance. For further information contact Development Control on 020 8891 7300.

Do I need to provide toilets for staff and the public?

If your premises is new, toilet facilities must be provided for both staff and customers. All premises must provide toilet facilities for their staff.

Do I need to be registered or licensed to sell food?

There is no requirement for food premises to be licensed but in most situations you do need to register your business before you open. Registration is free and can be completed online or by post.

Can I cater from home or from vehicle or stall?

Yes. However, you will still need to comply with many of the food regulations applying to caterers. Please contact us if you need more information.  

Where in the Borough can I cater from a vehicle or stall?

This requires you to be a registered trader and be operated from a designated pitch within the Borough. It also depends on what type of food you wish to sell. Contact the Licensing Team on 020 8891 7994 for more details.

Do I, or anyone I employ, need formal training in order to operate a food business?

Strictly speaking, no formal training is required. However, all food handlers must be supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters to a level appropriate to their job. In addition, the person responsible for maintaining the food safety management procedure must be adequately trained in the application of HACCP principles.

Do I need to document my food safety management procedure?

Yes. All food businesses must have some form of documented food safety management procedures based on HACCP principles. For smaller businesses this need not be very complicated and may, for example in the case of some small retail premises, be as simple as maintaining a record of temperatures. Some caterers may be able to use off-the-shelf packages like Safer Food Better Business to help comply with this requirement. Please contact us to discuss your particular needs.

Is there more information on food safety?

If you would like further information of food safety please try the Food Standards Agency website or contact us directly.

Updated: 25 April 2017