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I 'm considering running a small catering business from my home. Are there rules and regulations which I have to meet.?

You need to get in touch with the Environmental Health Service, Trading Standards Officer and Planning Department of your local authority.

All food businesses must register with the local authority (Food Safety Act). Registration involves filling in a simple form and there is no fee payable. Your local authority should then inspect your kitchen to ensure that the risks to the general public from food poisoning are minimised.

Food handlers have to be trained to the right level for their jobs. So if you want to run a home-based catering business you should probably have some sort of training such as a certificate in basic food hygiene.

Businesses need to be operated to the standards laid down in the Food Safety Regulations. But these regulations, for example, would stipulate that food preparation surfaces and equipment should be easy to clean, be kept clean and be kept in good repair. There are requirements on the correct temperature for chilled food, on the storage and transport of food, on washing facilities, on pets, and lighting and ventilation.

Foods have to be properly labelled, with the name of the food, a list of the ingredients, a 'use by' of 'best before' date and so on. But your Trading Standards Office should be able to give you better information.
Unless you are going to have lots of visitors to the house or producing large quantities of food, you may not need to get planning permission. But check with the Planning Department.

A government website, www.defra.gov.uk, has some additional useful information on issues concerning food and drink.

See also: Government helps to get business up and running

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