Running a food business

Guidance for food businesses:
Starting a food business from home
Guidance for community cooking and food banks
Guidance for packaging and labelling food
Guidance for home catering
Guidance on the application of EU food hygiene law to community and charity food provision

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

We have created a check list for anyone starting a new 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 must register each food business separately. If you move premises or make substantial changes to what you business does you must also update us of these changes.

All food businesses must register. This includes businesses that operate from home or trade in a mobile unit. Provision of food for charity or not-for-profit is also classified as a food business if this is carried out regularly. If you are unsure whether you need to register please contact the Food and Safety Team.

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 have a paid advice service where you can have dedicated time to your business from one of our qualified Food & Safety officers. The charge of this service is £205.20 (inclusive of VAT). This provides you with up to 2 hours of advice, and can include a site visit or pre-inspection.

Please complete our bespoke food business advice order form to apply.

“The advice provided to me during the advisory visit was really helpful and beneficial…. It impacted the food hygiene rating of my take away positively and I was really grateful for the rating I received following the food hygiene inspection.

I would recommend this service to anyone who would like to start a catering business or even for someone who is already in the trade.”

Jas Cafe & Grill


Unfortunately, we are not able to run food hygiene training courses for businesses or individuals currently. We hope to run them again in the future.


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 £227. Please fill out and pay using the revisit request form. You must fill in all parts of the form telling us what you have done to improve since your last inspection in the following areas; food hygiene, structure and confidence in management. You will receive an unannounced inspection within 3 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 during your re-inspection.

The Food Standards Agency has developed a national recovery plan which we must follow. This places premises for food hygiene inspection in a priority order. We are working hard to visit and inspect food businesses in Reading as soon as possible. We understand that businesses are under pressure and wish to have their food hygiene rating to trade on delivery platforms, however, we are unable to prioritise your premises inspection to meet this requirement and will not be able to process requests to do so.


We charge an administrative fee for processing refunds. This applies to changes made to applications where incorrect information is given or where the application is no longer needed. This fee is currently £37 and will automatically deducted from the amount refunded. Please ensure that all the information you give is correct at the time of payment. If you are unsure about which application to choose, please contact the Food and Safety Team.

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.

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

Last updated on 12/04/2024