Setting up a chocolate-making venture can be exciting but daunting, since there are complex guidelines governing the food service and manufacture industries. There is also a good deal of confusing and misleading information in general circulation. You will need to comply with health and safety regulations as stipulated by the Food Standards Agency, but in the UK there is no such thing as a "food service license."
Registering your business
If you are making chocolate for your own private consumption, then you do not need to consult with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Once you decide to make the leap into commercial food manufacture, then you will need to contact your local Environmental Health Office via your local council. The council will register your business at no cost, and will advise you on hygiene practices. If you intend to sell food to the public for just a one-off event, you should still contact your local council to check their specific guidelines, which can vary considerably.
The food safety inspector
If yours is a commercial venture, once you have registered your business the food safety inspector will visit you in order to inspect the premises where you will be making your food. Whether your premises are your own domestic kitchen or a commercial premises they will need to comply with the inspector's standards for cleanliness and good hygiene practices. The inspector will provide advice and guidance on how to comply with regulations, so it will benefit you to make contact as soon as possible.
Safer Food, Better Business
While there is no such thing as a food license in the UK (except when it comes to selling food on the street), you will need to comply closely with health and safety guidelines. These are detailed in the FSA manual "Safer Food, Better Business" which can be ordered, free of charge, from the FSA website. The SFBB manual contains a diary which you are required to fill out, as a record of your daily hygiene practices. Once your business is up and running, the inspector will check this record as well as the level of cleanliness in your kitchen.
If your premises and hygiene practices do not meet the standards required by the Food Safety Inspector you will not be allowed to sell and manufacture food. However, stipulations and strictness varies between councils and even between council inspectors, so it is important to get as much information as you can from your local authority at the outset. It is possible to buy public liability insurance for catering, but in the UK this is not a statutory requirement. Catering Liability Insurance will protect you in the event that a customer complains about your food.
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