Food premises inspection

Starting a food business

If you are thinking of starting a food business you must:

Register your food business.

Registration is free of charge and cannot be refused. A food premises registration is also necessary where a change of ownership has taken place at an existing business.

All new food business establishments must register with the council at least 28 days before starting food operations. This applies to ALL businesses that store, prepare, distribute or sell food on premises (NB food also includes drink).

People who prepare small amounts of food very occasionally may not be required to be registered as food businesses. The Food Standards Agency has provided advice on providing food at community and charity events.

The Nationwide Caterers Association can provide mobile and temporary premises with good advice, training and documentation on, for example, assisting with the completion of SFBB packs.

The premises that you choose for your business must comply with the necessary regulations and allow you to prepare food safety. The Food Standards Agency has provided guidance on choosing the right premises and how to keep them clean.

We encourage you to contact us to discuss how you intend to operate and what you are going to sell before you open your business.

What must you have in place

A documented food safety management system which includes how you ensure you do not cross contaminate foods with allergens.

The Food Standards Agency have produced a template system which is free to download called Safer Food Better Business (SFBB), alternatively other systems are available or you can write your own system.

Your system must include what checks you make to ensure that the food you produce is safe, a cleaning schedule, arrangements for pest control, waste disposal including Fats, oil and grease.

Allergen information and correct labelling

The Food Standards Agency provide lots of allergen information including free allergen training.

On YouTube, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute have produced free online allergen training videos in 13 languages. A food allergen resource, also available in 13 languages, provides staff with a food allergen poster, information about food allergy and intolerance, legal requirements, how to manage allergens and how to be a responsible business. There is also detailed information about the 14 allergens that food businesses must declare as being used as an ingredient in their food.

The Food Standards Agency provides information and guidance on labelling requirements.

Food Hygiene training

Food business operators must ensure that food handlers receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene. This must be in-line with the area staff work in and to enable them to handle food safely. Level 2 Award in Food Safety is designed to meet the food safety and hygiene needs of the catering, manufacturing and retail sectors. This is a basic training course for all food handlers. Braintree District Council offer this one day course.

Sufficient sinks and wash hand basins, each with hot and cold running water.


You must ensure that you have sufficient toilet provision for the total number of customer seats (inside and outside) that you intend to provide:

Customer Seats Customer Toilets Staff Toilets

1-20 customers & staff in total

1 Unisex (wheel chair accessible) Shared with customers

21-50 customers

1 male & 1 female toilet
However as a minimum one of these must be a unisex wheel chair accessible toilet.
1 for 1-5 employees
2 for 6-25 employees
(on site at any one time)

Food premises approval

Food premises approval may be required if you produce or handle products of animal origin, for example meat, which are then supplied to other food businesses. This is a requirement of retained European law in Community Directive 853/2004. In general, the following types of food businesses will require approval:

  • food manufacturers producing products of animal origin
  • home caterers selling products of animal origin to other businesses
  • central production kitchens that supply catering establishments or retailers
  • stand-alone cold stores
  • establishments that pack or wrap (or repack or re-wrap) products of animal origin such as meat fish dairy or egg products.

Apply for food premises Approval

We carry out regular food hygiene inspections on all food businesses in the Braintree District.

The frequency of these inspections is based on a risk assessment, taking into account the:

  • type of food and method of handling
  • method of processing
  • consumers at risk
  • level of current compliance
  • confidence in management and control systems

Premises that pose a higher risk will be inspected more often. Inspections range from every 6 months to every 3 years.

We will also rate your business under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, where businesses are rated from 5 (very good) to 0 (urgent improvement required). Those rated from 2 to 0 are deemed non-compliant.

Businesses can appeal against the rating or request a re-inspection for which there is a charge.

When will we visit? 

Once you have registered your food business, our food safety team will contact you. They will provide you with advice and information and let you know what will happen next.

We will not generally make an appointment (unless you are operating from a domestic premises) and we may visit outside normal office hours. It is a criminal offence not to let us into your business, this will result in a fine or conviction.

During the inspection we will:

  • show you a proof of identification
  • talk to you and your staff about training
  • looks at your records for temperature, cleaning and pest control
  • look at food safety management, including stock control and allergen control
  • look at how you work
  • look at your equipment
  • take hot and cold temperature using a thermometer
  • give you advice and answer any questions you may have

We may:

  • take food away for further inspection
  • close down the premises
  • take legal action

After the inspection

We will discuss what has been found during the inspection and give you a report to read.

It will detail any problems found and what you can do to fix them. If it is very serious you will be sent a letter telling you what needs to be done.

We will work with you to agree on a reasonable timescale. If you cannot make the changes within the timescale agreed, you must contact us.

You may be issued with a hygiene improvement notice if matters pose a serious risk, or if you do not take steps to remedy the matters we have raised with you.

You must complete the work listed in the hygiene improvement notice, if you do not we will take legal action.

Food and Safety

Address: Causeway House,
Bocking End,

Telephone: 01376 557790

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