Starting and running a food business

Start a food business in Northern Ireland

Food businesses in Northern Ireland are required by law to register their establishments with the environmental health service of their local council. Food establishments include:

  • food retail businesses
  • catering outlets
  • food manufacturing and packing businesses
  • importing or exporting food
  • food distribution businesses
  • domestic premises where food business activities are carried out

Registered premises are inspected to ensure they comply with the law. See how to register your food business.

Comply with the law when starting a food business

Whether you're starting up a food business from scratch or taking over an existing business, it's essential to get things right from the beginning. There are some very important rules you must comply with, including:

  • ensuring premises are suitable for preparing food safely
  • ensuring appropriate food safety procedures are in place

Read more on how to meet food safety regulations and what you need to do regarding food allergies, food intolerance and labelling.

Best practice when starting a food business

You can also consider adopting best practice guidelines to help you achieve compliance with the law. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advice and guidance on starting a food business.  It has also published a guide on safe catering (PDF, 4MB) that covers best practice and helps food businesses meet their legal requirement to have a HACCP based procedure in place.

There is also FSA guidance on safer food, better business for caterers focusing on key areas such as food safety, storage, training and hygiene.