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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Starting a Food Business or Food Premises

In Ontario all food premises, including home-based food businesses, must meet the requirements of the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (O. Reg. 493/17).1


What is a Food Premises?

A "food premises" is any location where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale, but does not include a room actually used as a dwelling in a private residence.2

Examples include: convenience stores, grocery stores, churches, hotdog carts, fast food restaurants, full service restaurants, home-based food premises, online food sales, food made for donation, etc.



If you have questions about a new or existing food premises, about whether you are allowed to make food from your home, or if you require consultation related to your food premises, please contact us:


As a food premises operator, it is important to understand:

  • Your roles and responsibilities,
    • including business licensing, zoning restrictions, food labelling, etc.
  • The steps to get approval for your food premises, and
  • How to operate your food premises safely to help prevent foodborne illness, including safe food handling and processing procedures.

Getting Started

Check the Rules

Look into whether you will be permitted to operate your food premises from the address you have selected.

  • Check directly with your local city or municipality for applicable by-laws, building and fire codes, etc.
    • Please note that in the City of London there are zoning by-laws which may prevent you from operating a food business from home.
    • In Strathroy-Caradoc refer to the municipality's Home Businesses web page.
  • Check with other organizations for other requirements (e.g. labelling, alcohol, meat processing, etc.). See Links to Other Organizations for more information.

In the City of London get started with the Plan, Launch & Grow Guides created by Service London Business and apply for a business license where required.


To ensure your food premises meets the requirements of Ontario Food Premises Regulation (O. Reg. 493/17) and avoid unnecessary costs and renovations, consult a Public Health Inspector if you have any questions. It is strongly recommended that you submit floor plans for a newly constructed or renovated food premises.


Every person who intends to operate a food premises within Middlesex-London is required by law to notify the Medical Officer of Health.2 If you are a new food premises operator or are moving your business, be sure to fill out the correct form below:

Submit the completed form in one of the following ways:

  • Mail: Middlesex-London Health Unit
    Attention: Environmental Health
    355 Wellington St, Suite 110, London, ON, N6A 3N7

Home-Based Food Business Criteria in Middlesex-London

If you live in a municipality where home-based food businesses are allowed, the following criteria must be met for a Public Health Inspector (PHI) from the Middlesex-London Health Unit to approve and inspect your business.

Home Business Area

  • Access from the outside of the home to the proposed business area is required (to allow entry to the business area without entering the living area).
  • Separation within the home is required between all areas relevant to the business and home living areas.
  • Storage of food and or materials for use by the business must be stored in the proposed business area only.
  • Contact your local municipal building department before altering home structures and or electrical and plumbing.
  • Contact your local fire department to discuss cooking location in your home and the addition of cooking equipment.

Well Water

  • Well water must be potable if used in any process. Well water must be sampled and the results presented to a Public Health Inspector (PHI).
  • Sampling may be conducted by a PHI during inspections.
  • A PHI will determine sampling frequency. Your well may be considered a Small Drinking Water System.

Operation and Processing

  • The food premises must be operated to meet all applicable requirements under the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (O. Reg. 493/17).
  • Valid food handler certificates must be available upon request. See the Food Handler Certification Program for more information.
  • Pets are not allowed in the food preparation area.
  • To protect food from contamination, limit the number of persons that access the food preparation area.
  • Inspections are carried out randomly one to three times per year or more depending on the type of food i.e. hazardous or non-hazardous, potential overall risk with processes, and inspection compliance history. See Food Safety Inspections for more information.

Additional Information

For more food safety information from other organizations, please visit Links to Other Organizations.

Date of creation: January 14, 2021
Last modified on: January 25, 2024


1Ontario. Ministry of the Attorney General. (2017). Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.R.O. 1990, Ontario Regulation 493/17: Food Premises. Retrieved from
2Ontario. Ministry of the Attorney General. (1990). Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.7. Retrieved from