Originally Posted by Jax13
... I am in the process of setting up a marmalade brand and aside from eho approval (local health debt.) I need to liase with trading standards for my packaging and a food lab for shelf life advice etc. on my products.
All in all, the outlay isn't huge if you know how to go about it and are looking at small one man operations.
I would say it is well worth doing things legitimately to cover yourself fully from anyone who sees fit to drag you to court and with the proper approval insurance fees shouldn't be too bad. You say you aim to do a couple of weeks worth at a time but if you changed tack slightly and went for a supply rather than sale business you could have your product in the bars all the time, not just a Friday night for half an hour, convenience stores, hardware stores, gun / hunting and fishing stores etc. You may find there is a big market for it so get out there with your product and speak to business owners and potential stockists and give them a sample bag. If they like it, and are keen to stock it then you know that any financial outlay will have some degree of security.
Unless you are going to go beyond giving it away to friends then it is essential that you do things properly from the start. If not then the litigation potential is vary scary. As Jax points out the outlay in the UK is not huge - especially if you are registering as a Sole Trader. I set myself up as a Limited Company - mainly so that I can recover tax on equipment purchases - but whichever way you do it talk to the EHO/FSA before you start. I have found that they will go out of their way to help you - it is in their professional interest to do so.
You really also need to go on a recognised food safety course too in order to show a minimum level of training/competence in the safe handling of food. The one day certificate (Level 2) is really the minimum if you are preparing low risk foods (jam, chutney, smoked cheese etc.) however the "supervising food safety" level 3 courses are recommended if you are preparing any of the higher risk foods (fresh/smoked meats/fish or cured meat products) - although these take considerably longer and are more expensive.
Start small and grow with your local market. Until you have demonstrated that other people actually do like what you produce (and importantly will pay for it) then avoid over committing your resources. Seasonal diversity is always a good idea too.
You will also be expected to have laboratory shelf life testing and nutritional analysis done, however I found that this was a lot easier and cheaper to do than I was expecting.