Food Hygiene for Home Businesses
Social media and internet advertising has made it easier than ever to run a business from home, and this even extends to the food industry. Whether you’d like to start making exquisite cakes in your spare time, or you’d like to produce artisanal delights full time, it’s entirely feasible these days, provided you’ve got the skills and business knowhow. Of course, one of the big points that you’ll need to think about is hygiene. It’s incredibly important when you’re making food that you’re going to sell, and it does require a reasonable amount of knowledge. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what you need to do legally in regards to food hygiene, and what in practice makes for a safe environment to prepare food.
What the Law Says
Unfortunately, the law surrounding food hygiene when it comes to home businesses isn’t all that straightforward - there are differing elements to the legislation, and things can be different depending on where in the country you live. As a result, the first piece of advice is that you should go to your local authority and find out what they require from you before you start. In almost all cases, this will be readily available online. Generally however, there are four elements that you’re going to need to take into consideration when it comes to the law.
The first is to understand the General Food Regulations, which cover all of the main elements of food law. There are several parts to this, coming from both the EU and the UK government, as well as different pieces of legislation for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can find comprehensive information on the Government’s website here.
Your premises will need to be set up and maintained in accordance with the food safety legislation and guidelines put out by the government, and then they will be inspected, just as with any other food business. You need to not only understand what the requirements are, but you need to understand the process of inspection too. Again, this is something that your local authority will carry out, and be able to help you with.
The law does require that all people involved in the production of food have adequate training for their job. The law doesn’t give specific details as to exactly what this training must involve, or which bodies must accredit it, but it’s something you must look into. Fortunately, food hygiene courses are inexpensive, can often be done online, and have no entry requirements. You’ll be presented with a food hygiene certificate that you can use to show you know your stuff. Virtual College offers a number of courses that you might find helpful. Click here to be taken to our food hygiene course page.
Paperwork is an unfortunate element of most business, and catering is no different. You need to produce documentation that shows you have food safety management procedures in place, which includes things like storage and cooking. This might be asked for by your local authority, and it will be checked when you are inspected.
There are four Cs that are commonly used as the best way of tackling food safety for home business. Understand and master these and you’ll have no problem running your business in accordance with good food safety standards. Let’s look at them here.
Cross contamination is one of the major causes of foodborne illnesses, and refers quite simply to when raw or even cooked foods aren’t handled properly, spreading bacteria around the kitchen, and ultimately meaning that dangerous bacteria gets into food without being cooked or otherwise dealt with. Cross-contamination can be avoided by ensuring that the right utensils, chopping boards and preparation areas are used for the right food items. Similarly, certain foods shouldn’t be stored together or in such a way that they might come into contact with one another.
One of the best ways of killing the aforementioned bacteria is by thoroughly cleaning everything that you’re using as part of the food preparation process. This means washing things like raw vegetables, and the utensils and surfaces that you’re using. Of course, one of the number one rules is to make sure that you’ve washed your hands properly before you do anything.
You might not need to cook any of your food as part of the preparation process, but if you do, it’s absolutely essential that it’s done properly. Many meats and other foodstuffs can carry very dangerous bacteria, but this can be completely eliminated through cooking to the right temperature. In general, foods that need to be cooked must reach 74 degrees throughout, and this should be tested with a thermometer. If foods are being held at temperature, this must be done in the right way, and many foods shouldn’t be reheated either.
Certain bacteria thrive at room temperature, which is why many foods have to be refrigerated. Ensure you understand what does need to be kept in the fridge and what doesn’t. You also need to make sure that the refrigeration you’re using is at the correct temperature - it mustn’t be too warm. This goes for freezing too.
For more information on our food hygiene courses, click here.