Running a food business

Covid-19 guidance for food businesses:
Starting a food business from home
Reopening and adapting food businesses during Covid-19
General advice for food businesses during Covid-19
Guidance for deliveries and takeaways
Guidance for community cooking and food banks
Guidance for packaging and labelling food

Guidance for all workplaces:
Guidance for employers/employees on working safely during Covid-19
For information on dealing with un-used water systems (Legionella risk) in businesses
Guidance on businesses providing safe water supplies

You should read the Food Standards Agency information on starting a food business.

You will have to register your business with us at least 28 days before you want to start trading. It is free and cannot be refused.

You can find further advice on the legal requirements for disposal of surplus food, labelling, food allergens and packaging on the Business Companion website.

If you want to run a catering or cake making business from home you have to follow the same rules and regulations as other food businesses. We have produced information leaflets to help you: preparing food as a home business and starting a home cake making business.

All food handlers must undergo training in food hygiene. The level of training depends on the amount and type of food handling you do.

If your food business will be selling alcohol, serving food after 11pm or is a mobile catering unit, you may require a premises licence.

Approved premises

Premises subject to approval must be inspected and granted approval before trading can commence. You must apply for approval using the approved premises application form.

Bespoke food hygiene advice

If you are starting a new food business or want advice on how to improve your rating, we can provide up to two hours of advice. Due to the current circumstances, we are unable to visit your premises in person, however we can discuss other options to provide this advice. If you have any questions please email before completing the form. This service costs £157. Please complete our bespoke food business advice order form.


We run training courses in food safety to help individuals and businesses understand what they need to do keep food and safe and to help meet the legal requirements for food businesses.

We are currently refreshing our training courses and plan to run the following courses in the upcoming months.

Course dates

  • all cancelled

The courses run from 9.15am to 4.30pm and cost £72. RSPH Food Safety Level 2 factsheet

The objective of the RSPH Level 2 Award in Food Safety and Hygiene is to cover the principles of food hygiene for food handlers working in either a catering or retail environment. It is a valuable free standing qualification that is also suitable for learners and employees engaged in other food based vocational training and employment.

Book a place on RSPH Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene Course

We are taking bookings, please visit this site regularly to book your space. You will need to pass a multiple choice test to gain your certificate.

Due to a change in course provider we are no longer able to offer the Level 2 refresher course in Food Safety in Catering. If you wish to complete food safety training with Reading Borough Council please apply for the 1 day level 2 award in Food Safety and Hygiene which we recommend is completed every 3 years.

We can also provide training at your workplace, if necessary.


We inspect of all food premises regularly. We do not give notice of our visits.

You can see the food hygiene ratings we awarded.

You can apply for a re-rating inspection if you believe your business has improved. The fee for a re-rating inspection is £170. Please fill out and pay using the revisit request form, telling us what you have done to improve since your last inspection. You will receive an unannounced inspection within three months of us receiving your application. It is important to understand that your rating may go up, down or stay the same depending on the conditions found on the day of your re-inspection.

Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our inspections we are not currently taking applications from businesses that are overdue or due their next routine inspection. If you would like a re-rate but are not sure whether this applies please contact us at

Non-business catering for large numbers

Catering from Home Safely

Contact the food and safety team or on 0118 937 3787 for more information or to inform us of any changes to your business.

Please see the Data Privacy Notice for more details of how we keep your data secure.

Food Standard’s Agency

To contact the Food Standard’s Agency (FSA) about general enquiries, visit their website: or call: 0330 332 7149. The line is open 9.00 until 17.00, Monday to Friday.