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Health & Hygiene: Everything cake baking businesses need to know

schedule 13th September 2017 by Roger Moore in Food and Drink

Chocolate cupcakes being made

If you’re selling cakes from home or have a small catering business, there are a number of food hygiene and safety laws you must be compliant with.

When selling cakes and other treats from home, it’s common for bakers to think that they won't need to register their businesses or be compliant with food hygiene and safety laws. When you’re just selling food in your spare time or to a small customer base, you might not even consider yourself part of a business. However, even in these circumstances, there are a number of food and hygiene and safety laws you must be compliant with.

If you make or prepare food then you must be inspected to make sure you are following food laws. If they find anything within your premises that is unsafe, they can prevent you from continuing to sell until you take reasonable action.

How do I know if FSA guidelines apply to me?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has created guidance for those who produce food for community or charity purposes. However, these guidelines apply only to those preparing food if there is not a certain continuity of activities and a particular degree of organisation. For this to apply, activities must occur less frequently than once a month.

Depending on the degree of continuity and the organisation involved in your food handling, you may need to register with your local authority as a small business.

Do I need to register my business even when baking at home?

Even if you are preparing food in the comfort of your own home, you must register your business with your local authority. Once you have registered your business, environmental health will visit your home to inspect: your premises, the food you make or prepare, how you work, and your food safety management system.

There is also legislation in place that requires food businesses to have a documented Food Safety Management system based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). This will require you to pinpoint and document factors that could potentially make your food a risk to customers. You must then document the measures you take to prevent these risks. This is a legal requirement.

Should any hazards occur, you must make a record of them and how you’ve dealt with them. Your business can be inspected by a health and safety executive at any time and they are able to request to see records of your risk assessment as and when they choose.

What about food allergens?

If a customer with a food allergy consumes an ingredient they cannot eat, the effects can be life-threatening or lead to long-term health conditions. In the UK, food allergies affect roughly eight per cent of children and two per cent of adults, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

To avoid any situation when someone with an allergy is in danger, there are laws in place relating to how allergen information is provided by food businesses. There is EU legislation in place that requires businesses to label their products with the full ingredient information, helping those with allergies to avoid foods that could be dangerous to them.

Food businesses must also highlight any allergens that have been used in the ingredients, including gluten, eggs, peanuts, nuts, milk and sesame, all of which are frequently used in cake baking.

How do I prove I have good food hygiene?

While food businesses are not required to have a food hygiene certificate, it certainly helps prove to your customers that you have good food safety and hygiene.

In order to receive a Food Hygiene and Safety Certificate, you will have to follow rules and receive training from your local authority. Alternatively, you can take the online Food Hygiene and Safety Level 2 for Catering course by Virtual College to fast-track your certification and complete your training in your own time in an environment that suits you.

Related resources

Roger Moore - Virtual College

Author: Roger Moore

Roger graduated in economics from Warwick University and first had a career in teaching, progressing to head of business studies in a large comprehensive school. His long and varied marketing career included working for the world’s largest PR agency. He enjoys reading, swimming, country walking and watching and participating in racquet sports.

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