Do you consider yourself a genius in the kitchen? A master chef on your own terms? Maybe it’s time to take the next step in your career and set up your very own small food business.

Now could be the perfect time. With eateries like street food and niche cafés on the rise, the food industry is soaring. In fact, over 3.5 billion are now eating street food – business is booming. But the real question is: are you ready for a new challenge in your career?

Here we aim to help you understand how to handle, store and serve the food that you sell. This start-up guide should direct you along the right path for setting up your own small food business.

The big opening

Before you open your new business to the public, it’s important that you register your business premises to the environmental health services. This is free, so won’t chip away at more of your budget – but this should be done 28 days before the big opening.

Wow your customers

Presentation is everything in the food industry – make your food look tasty and customers are likely to buy it. However, it’s not all about making it look good. You must make sure that any labelling and advertisement does not mislead the customer. This is stipulated in the EU food regulations – in particular,Article 16 of The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002. Labelling should clearly stipulate the product for sale, as well as address any allergen information contained within the food on the packaging.

Supplier reliability

Making sure you have a reliable and trustworthy supplier can contribute towards your company’s success. The quality of your food matters. A poor supplier will have an impact upon the safety and quality of the food that you serve to your consumers. 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. If you are suspicious of the foods that you have been supplied, you have the right to reject them. You should also contact your supplier immediately in these scenarios. Some other things that you should consider when food is delivered to your business are as follows:

  1. Are chilled and frozen foods cold enough?
  2. Is the packaging damaged?
  3. Is it what you ordered?

Recording your food

All food businesses and operators should intend to keep records of food, food substances, and the food-producing animals that have helped towards supplying consumers with food, which is stipulated by Article 18 of The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002. A food business should also state when and where they have supplied other businesses with produce, if they have done so. This information should be stored until the necessary authorities require it, should they ever need it.

How to prevent cross-contamination

Cross-contamination of foods can affect the health of your customers – and when a customer’s health is put in harms way, you risk the reputation of your business. Raw foods need to be labelled and stored separate to any cooked products. As well as this, hands can also spread cross-contamination and bacteria so it’s important that hands are thoroughly cleaned after handling raw food produce. 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 ensure that foods are being stored correctly at any one time, foods should always be stored and labelled correctly. Raw meat/poultry and ready-to-eat foods separate at all times, including packaging material for ready-to-eat-food. Additionally, you should wash your hands after handling meat/poultry, fish, eggs and unwashed fruit and vegetables, and clean and wash work surfaces and equipment before and when handling these foods. Foods containing allergens should be prepared and stored in different areas of a kitchen and when serving them to the public.

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