The essential food safety guide for small food manufacturing businesses

food manufacturer

Introduction to small food manufacturing businesses

There were approximately 7,590 micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the food and drink sector with turnover of around £21 billion and 134,000 employees in 2020. In the food sector (excluding beverages) SMEs accounted for 78% of businesses, 26% of employment and 17% of turnover. Around a third of the SMEs are manufacturers of bakery products.

Annual Business Survey (ONS)(2019) Tweet

The figures speak for themselves in that there are a huge amount of small manufacturing business producing products as diverse as free from bakery products to vegan chocolate  to plant milks and kimchi. However what they all have in common is that they must all follow food safety rules and stay legal to make sure their products are safe. 

Navigating your way around food safety rules can be very confusing so here’s some information on the food safety documentation you will need to get started.

The food safety documentation you need to think about:

food safety documents

Register your food business

You must register your food manufacturing business with the local authority where your business premises is located at least 28 days before you start trading  Food Business Registration

Food premises approval

Proof of approval is required for some businesses by law if they involve handling or selling products of animal origin, such as meat or fish etc. . Speak to your local Environmental Health Food department for further advice How to apply for approval 

Food Safety Management System (FSMS)

This must reflect your business operations and be based on HACCP principles which means looking at the risks in your business, such as allergens,  and putting in place controls to make your food product safe. You will need to be able to verify your FSMS and make sure your products are traceable. For more information see my blog How to get your head around Food Safety Management Systems

Monitoring Records

Check and record your food safety controls regularly and take action if something is wrong. This is particularly important at ‘Critical Control Points’ in the production of the food/drink product where a pH level or temperature must be achieved. Records can be paper or digital. Digital Kitchen Food Safety Diary

Other documents/certification to consider:

  1. BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard generally required if you want to retail your product in large supermarkets 
  2. ISO 22000 Certification helps food  businesses to manage risk and food safety hazards 
  3.  SGS Food Certification – includes various standards including gluten free, allergens (AHA) etc. 
  4. SALSA approval scheme– helps local and regional food producers to reach national buyers  
  5. International Featured Standards for manufacturers an international version of BRC used commonly by European companies


You will need to think about where you want to sell your products to decide if you need any additional certification or approval. 

food maufacturing

Make sure you have all your food safety systems in place BEFORE you start commercially producing your product. This should include microbiological testing if appropriate to establish shelf life and safety of the food, and labelling.

Contact me

If you are a small business and need help with your food manufacturing business don't hesitate to call me or drop me an email.
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