Finally, after years of dreaming, then years of hard graft, you’re almost ready to open your first café. What’s the first thing you do?

Ok, there are still a thousand vital things to do. But we’re thinking of – register with the environmental service at your local authority. You must do that 28 days before opening.

Then, peruse the Food Standards Authority’s (FSA’s) website and make sure you comply with the required regulations. This booklet is particularly helpful. A few requirement are highlighted here:

  • Make sure your premises are suitable, clean and hygienic;
  • Ensure you have sufficient washing facilities so that your staff can wash their hands with hot water and soap;
  • Also make sure you have sufficient toilets, and that they do not open directly into areas where food will be prepared;
  • Floors and walls must be easy to clean, which in practice means they should be smooth;
  • Structures, such as ceilings, doors and windows, should be constructed in a way that prevents build-up of dirt and condensation;
  • You must put in place food safety management procedures;
  • Staff should be supervised or trained appropriately in food safety;
  • Choose your suppliers carefully – you may recall the recent story about Yeo Valley yoghurts recalling certain products because of rubber found in a preserve supplied by a supplier;

Make sure you follow all the rules once up and running, for instance:

  • Keep written records of food supplied by others;
  • If you suspect any food that you have supplied is harmful to someone’s health, arrange for it to be withdrawn from sale;
  • Keep the premises hygienic, remembering the four Cs: cleaning, cooking, chilling, cross-contamination;
  • Ensure your staff wash their hands well, and dry them – germs multiply and spread more easily on wet surfaces.
  • Be ready for inspections, which may be routine or because of a complaint – you will not normally be warning in advance.
  • Put your 5-star Food Hygiene Rating Scheme sticker in a prominent place on your store front, to attract customers who care about food safety.

This is only a cursory glance – do look at the FSA’s website for more detail. If you are a member of elXtr, we have a guidance on the matter, and you could also phone our health and safety lawyers for more specific advice.

And do not forget all your other requirements, from fire safety arrangements to employing staff correctly. We can assist with all these issues.

And last of all – enjoy! Starting your own business is a dream come true, and you will make the world a better place.

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