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Susan Ward

How to Start a Food Business in Canada

By November 20, 2011

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A lot of people like the idea of starting a food business, whether it be opening their own restaurant, catering or operating a food cart. Today, for instance, I got an email from a person who wants to start her own home-based bakery.

How to start a food business in Canada.

So here is vital information for those of you interested in starting a food business.

The first thing you need to know is that food businesses, generally, are heavily regulated for obvious health and safety reasons. Here, for instance, is a List of Regulations for the Food Industry from the province of Ontario. You can't just start up a food business in your home kitchen; whatever food products you make have to be produced in a government inspected kitchen.

You can create one in your home, of course, but many people who were originally thinking of going the home-based route find it easier to rent commercial kitchen space. (Churches and community centres often have these available.)

My article, Steps to Starting a Business in Canada lays out all the steps you have to follow to start any kind of Canadian business.

However, in addition to these, when you're starting a food business, you will have to comply with health and safety standards. How to Start a Restaurant or Catering Business in Ontario (CanadaBusinessOntario) is a useful resource guide with links to agencies such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency where you will find this list of Provincial and territorial public health departments.

The government's BizPal service is the easiest way to find out about all the permits and licenses you will need. You just enter where and what your business is, and BizPal will bring up a whole list of permits and licenses for you.

Alternatively, your own municipal town hall is the place to start.

You will also need to comply with food safety requirements, which may mean taking a food safety course yourself and making sure all your employees take one, too. Here is information on Food safety for food processors in Ontario. Contact your local health unit about the food safety requirements in your area.

Last but not least, don't let the list of regulations and requirements put you off. Starting a food business, like starting any other kind of business, can be such an immensely rewarding experience it's worth making the effort to cross all the t's.

More on Starting a Business

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