Use this checklist as a guide to make sure that your new business is safe and complies with the law.

Whether you're setting up a new food business or taking over an existing one, we are here to help you make sure it's safe and complies with the law. We're also here to help your business to encourage healthier eating across Scotland. 

Basic requirements

At least 28 days before you start trading, you need to: 

  • find out if your business needs to be registered, approved or if exemptions apply
  • if required, register with the environmental health service at your local authority

Find out if your business needs to be registered or approved.

Don't forget

You must register your business at least 28 days before you start trading, visit our guide to registering your business for more information

Once your business has been registered, you need to work with your local authority to make sure your business will comply with legal regulations.

Planning permission

Check with your local authority planning department that your business has the correct planning permisson to operate as a food business.

Premises structure and maintenance

Make sure that you have the appropriate: 

  • ventilation
  • lighting 
  • drainage
  • sinks
  • handwashing facilities
  • procedures in place for pest control


Check with your local authority licensing department if you need to apply for any licensing. 

For example, you may need to apply for a license to: 

  • sell alcohol
  • provide entertainment
  • provide late hours catering
  • conduct mobile sales


Make sure that you and your staff have the necessary qualifications or training needed to operate your business.

Refer to Food safety advice for caterers and retailers for training and access to guidance that may help you.


Make sure that:

  • your food preparation areas are clean 
  • you have a waste management contract in place
  • relevant staff know how to clean food storage areas like fridges and freezers


Food allergies can be life threatening. As a business you have a responsibility to prepare safe food for your consumers.

Learn more about allergens.

Access our free online allergen training.

Managing food safety

Consider having written rules and procudures in place to make sure your food is safe. 

These guides are food safety management systems based on hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP):

Record keeping

Do you have template sheets to record suppliers, ingredients, recipes and temperatures?

MenuCal is a free resource to allow you to record recipes and will help with allergen management and calculating calories.

Health and safety 

As a business operator you must consider the health and safety of everyone who enters your premises. This includes staff, customers and yourself. 

HSE: Information about health and safety at work is free guidance for new business set up to help with health and safety considerations.


You must have measures in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The Scottish Government Guidance may help.

Legislation details

Once you have established whether you need to register, or apply for approval, you should work with your local authority to ensure you are able to comply with the legal requirements and prepare safe food.

All food businesses, regardless of size, location or type of food must be aware of the food law that is relevant to their food business. Ultimately, you are responsible for ensuring the food you produce is safe as it is illegal to place unsafe food on the market.

You may wish to consider the following legislation when setting up your business. 

Retained Regulation (EC) 178/2002 and the Food Safety Act 1990

Legal requirements covering food safety include ensuring:

  • food businesses do not include in or remove anything from food, treat food in any way which would harm consumers
  • food served or sold by businesses is of the nature, substance or quality which consumers would expect.
  • that food is labelled properly and is not misleading
  • traceability through the food chain

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.

Food Safety Act 1990.

More information about food law.

Retained Regulation (EC) 852/2004 and Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006

Legal requirements covering food safety include:

  • the requirement to have a documented HACCP system (food safety management system)
  • details on general requirements of the food premises  
  • detailed specific requirements for rooms where food is prepared, treated or processed
  • training requirements

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004.

Food Hygiene (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

Retained Regulation (EC) 1169/2011 and Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2014

Contains legal requirements on what information you must provide to customers when you sell foods. This includes labelling requirements, such as nutritional and allergens.

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.

The Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2014 .

Retained Regulation (EC) 853/2004 and Retained Regulation (EC) 854/2004

These apply to approved premises handling products of animal origin only.

These regulations detail specific requirements for establishments handling products of animal origin.

Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.

Regulation (EC) No 854/2004.

More on this topic


Industry-specific advice

Whatever your business type, our website has advice on producing safe food.