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Setting up a new food business and registration

Before opening a new food business, please read the below information which we hope you may find helpful when setting up a new business.

This section also gives advice regarding how to register your food business with South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Good food hygiene is essential to help prevent food poisoning and protect your reputation with customers. The Food Standards Agency website.

provides resources to help food businesses produce safe food, including your first steps to running a catering business and food hygiene guidance.

Our Food and Safety Team provides a paid for advisory service where we can visit you before you open for business, or begin construction, and provide advice regarding food hygiene and health and safety.

If you are setting up a new business at home or in a business unit, you may need to speak with our Planning Service to identify whether the site has the correct planning permissions. The Planning Portal contains extensive guidance on the permissions required for most common projects. If a project doesn’t fit into one of these categories, please contact the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning team for advice.

You may also need to contact our Business Rates Team to identify whether you would be required to pay Business Rates or if you may be exempt. Please see our Business Rates page for more details.

Before trading as a food business, you will now need to register your food business with our Food and Safety Team. This is a legal requirement. More detail regarding registration can be found in the next section.

All food businesses must have a Food Safety Plan (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points- HACCP)

It is a legal requirement for all food businesses to have in place a certain amount of food safety paperwork, to prove that food is produced safely. This is called a food safety management system.

Different businesses will need a different amount of paperwork, depending on the size of the business, and the type of food that is being produced. For example, a small café will need less than a large food factory.

How can I comply with the law?

You must have a document which is based upon the HACCP principles (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points).

In simple terms, this means you must identify steps in the food activities of your business that are critical to ensuring food safety.  Having identified those steps, you need to ensure that adequate safety procedures are identified, implemented, maintained, documented and reviewed in order to control the potential food hazards. 

These controls may include temperature control, cleaning, avoiding cross contamination, thorough cooking of food, personal hygiene.

Other forms of food safety plans

Businesses which produce or sell low risk foods from home, such as foods which can be sold at ambient temperature (for example: cupcakes, confectionary) could produce their own simple food safety plan. Examples of what should be considered and included can be downloaded below:

Food manufacturers will usually require a food safety management system based upon the traditional HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) Principles.

Other template food safety management systems such as butchery HACCP templates can be found at the FSA website.

Safer Food, Better Business pack

The Food Standards Agency have produced a food safety plan called the Safer Food, Better Business (SFBB) pack to help small food businesses comply with their legal duty. The SFBB pack is usually suitable for small caterers such as cafés, restaurants, pubs, takeaways, nurseries and food retailers such as newsagents. 

The SFBB pack provides information about cross-contamination, cleaning, cooking, cooling, general management and a daily diary so you can record when certain checks have been completed.

Safer Food Better Business packs and diary refill packs can be:

  1. Downloaded free from the Food Standards Agency website; or
  2. A printed SFBB pack can be purchased from us for £16.50 (including postage). If you would like a printed pack, please contact us at

If you are planning to open a new food business, or take over an existing business as the new food business operator, you will need to register the business with us. A food business includes typical food businesses such as restaurants, pubs, manufacturers, schools, as well as charity groups and individuals making food at home.

Registration should be made to us at least 28 days before you begin trading.

Register your food business

There are some exemptions to food registration such as those that do not handle high risk foods or provide food less often than once per month. If you would like to confirm whether you meet the exemption, please contact our Food and Safety Team using the details below.

You also need to register if you are a food broker. Food brokers are businesses which sell food products from various producers and manufacturers to other wholesale and retail food businesses.

Certain types of food businesses that produce dairy products, meat products, fishery products, egg products, minced meat or meat preparation and sell these to other businesses may require a different type of registration, called an Approval.

If you think that your new food business falls into this category, you must contact the Food and Safety Team as soon as possible – food businesses that require Approval cannot start trading until approval has been granted.

Whether you are a new food business or age-old, from cooking at home to being a multi-national company, we are confident we have a service that can help you.

 We can provide advice and assistance regarding:

  • Food Safety Management Systems
  • Policies and procedures
  • Food safety and hygiene legislation compliance
  • Exporting of food outside of the EC
  • Pre-construction lay-out and design
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Renovation work
  • Waste audits
  • Food hygiene training for your staff
  • Sign post you to suppliers and customers
  • Audit your business in relation to food hygiene and safety


All food businesses must have a food safety management system in place. This is basically a document to show how you keep food safe whilst it is under your control. The document must be based on the HACCP principle (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).

The complexity of the documentation will depend upon the type of foods you produce and the procedures you use.

When an Environmental Health Officer undertakes an inspection to assess your food hygiene practices, we will review your food safety management system.

For more information about food safety management systems, please see our Food Safety Plan page.

Once you are registered with South Cambridgeshire District Council, we will likely undertake an unannounced food hygiene inspection to assess your compliance with food safety legislation.

As there may be a delay between when you submitted the food registration form and when the officer visits the premises, you can start to trade.

However, you must make sure that you are meeting the appropriate standards of food hygiene and food safety, and that you have all the required documentation in place, such as a documented food safety management system and appropriate monitoring records, before you start to produce food for your business.

During our visit we will view your food production and storage areas, discuss your practices and procedures and review your food safety management system to ensure that you are safely producing food.

At the end of the inspection, the Environmental Health Officer will leave you with an inspection report highlighting areas which may need addressing. We will risk score your food business and then revisit at a later date.

If you are responsible for developing and maintaining your business's food safety management procedures, you are legally required to have received adequate food hygiene training to enable you to do this.

Food business operators are also required by law to ensure that food handlers receive appropriate supervision and food hygiene training and instruction, in line with their work activity, and should enable them to handle food safely.

In the UK, food handlers don't have to hold a food hygiene training certificate to prepare or sell food, although many food businesses will prefer that they do.

The necessary skills may be obtained through:

  • On-the-job training
  • Self-study
  • Relevant prior experience
  • Online training course
  • Classroom training course

Food hygiene training certificates

UK food hygiene certificates don't have an expiry date. It is left to the discretion of the food business operator or Environmental Health Officer to decide whether a refresher course is needed. We would generally recommend that food hygiene refresher training is undertaken every three years.

We do not provide food hygiene training, however there are many food hygiene training courses available online or in a taught class room environment that will provide training certificates once a level of competence is attained. 

It is recommended that food handlers undertake Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety training. Managers of food businesses, or those involved with complex processes, may require greater knowledge and training to Level 3. Providers of training courses can be easily found using an online search engine.

We have adopted the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) from the Food Standards Agency.

The scheme helps customers to choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places you eat, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.

It’s not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone, so the rating gives you an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors.

You can check the ratings by looking at the window or door of a business, or by searching for a business on the FHRS website.

At the end of each food hygiene inspection, an officer will provide the business with a food hygiene rating scheme score between 0 (urgent improvement required) to 5 (very good). The scoring is based upon three criteria:

  • How hygienically the food is handled – how it is prepared, cooked, re-heated, cooled and stored
  • The condition of the structure of the buildings – the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • How the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future.

The process of inspecting a business

During a food hygiene inspection, an Environmental Health Officer will view your food production and storage areas, discuss your food safety practices and procedures and view your food safety management system (food safety plan).

Risk scoring

After each food hygiene inspection undertaken by an Environmental Health Officer, the business is provided with a risk scoring.

The lower the risk that the food business poses to food safety, the less often a food hygiene inspection will be undertaken. This allows us to focus our resources on businesses which have poorer practices, or greater risks, so we help them to improve standards and protect the public.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme - Safeguards for businesses

If a business receives a food hygiene rating scheme score of 4 or less, the owner or manager of the business should talk to the Environmental Health Officer that inspected the business about why the rating was given.

Request a revisit

A food business owner can formally request that a rescoring visit is undertaken. The cost of a revisit is £170 and a business can request more than one revisit.

Request for Re-score Payment form


If the business owner or manager thinks that the rating is unfair or wrong, they can appeal in writing to South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Food Safety Officer.

You have 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) from the date of receipt of the notification of FHRS rating to lodge an appeal. Before making an appeal, please visit the Appeals section of the Food Standards Agency website for further information.

Right to Reply

The owner or manager of the business also has a right to reply. This is different from an appeal. This allows the owner or manager to tell potential customers how the business has improved hygiene, or to say if there were unusual circumstances at the time of the inspection. A business’s right to reply will be published online with the business’s hygiene rating.

To make a right to reply, please complete the FHRS Right to Reply [DOCX, 75Kb] [DOCX, 75Kb] form and return it to us using the details below.

For further details of the FHRS safeguards please see the Food Standards Agency website.  

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