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The HR angle of setting up a street food business

Street food has seen a huge explosion in popularity over the last few years with every possible cuisine from the gourmet to the gluttonous on the menu


Street food has seen a huge explosion in popularity over the last few years with every possible cuisine from the gourmet to the gluttonous on the menu

But while deciding precisely what kind of food you are going to sell and how you’re going to market it is essential, there’s plenty of other considerations to be taken into account too. For example, there are all kinds of licences and safety certificates needed to operate legally and this article will outline the most important ones that you will need.


Firstly, to sell any kind of food in this country you will need to apply for an official food business registration a minimum of 28 before you first open for business. Without one, you run the risk of prosecution with a maximum sentence of two years if found guilty – a very good reason indeed to make sure that everything’s in order.

Next, it is a question of registering and applying for a street trading licence from your local council, or any other councils in whose areas you’re going to trade. Again, this needs to be done at least 28 days before trading for the first time. The fine for trading without one is £1,000. So, again, it would be an expensive mistake to overlook this.

It would also be a very good idea to join the National Market Traders Federation. Membership costs from just £140 per year and there are many benefits. For example, it includes public liability cover of up to £10 million as well as linking you to a nationwide network of market traders.

To sell food to the public, you and anyone who helps you will also need at least a Level 2 food safety certificate. This is where Sentient can step in to help. We offer a wide range of services from both classroom-based and remote training to comprehensive audits of food safety procedures. While these are all very reasonably priced, it’s important that you budget for them as part of your planning.


Moving on to the cooking equipment that you will be using, if it’s gas-powered it needs to be safety-compliant and electrical equipment needs annual portable appliance testing – known as PAT, for short.

How you store both the cooked food and the ingredients used for preparing it is also vital with strict temperature controls and specifications. You will also need to have the right fire-fighting equipment as well as on-site hot and cold-water hand-washing facilities.

As you gather all the necessary paperwork together, make sure to take scans of it to store on your computer as you will have to provide copies whenever you book an event or arrange a venue where you plan to set up. You should also keep hard copies with you when you’re operating as roving health and safety inspectors may ask to see them without giving any prior warning.

Once everything is in place and you’re fully legal, it’s time to start operating as a fully-fledged street food vendor. But do make a note of when all your licences and other obligations are due to be renewed as it can be easy to overlook them once you’re up and running.

Then, it is just a question of providing great food that people want to buy and putting in the hard graft. And remember, McDonald’s was once just a burger stand in San Bernardino, California - and look where they are today!

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