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Starting a food business from home guide

schedule 10th August 2018 by Virtual College in Food and Drink Last updated on 11th March 2019

baking business at home

Getting Started

A growing number of people are running a food business from home; there has been a particular rise in home-baking businesses in the wake of The Great British Bake Off's popularity, while many others are preparing food to be sold via mail-order models or at local market stalls.

In fact, from 2016 to 2017, Simply Business figures show that there was a 63 per cent rise in independent chocolatier businesses alone, and that's without even mentioning cake or brownie companies.

But do you need a food hygiene certificate to sell cakes, or indeed anything else, from home?

Which food hygiene certificate do I need to sell cakes from home?;

It isn't compulsory for a home-baking business or similar to have a food hygiene certificate, but it is strongly recommended by the Food Standards Agency and other official bodies.

Undertaking the Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene for Catering course  via Virtual College would demonstrate to customers and other businesses that you take food hygiene seriously.

Our e-learning course for this basic food hygiene certificate allows you to fast-track your learning, studying at a time that's convenient to you, instead of having to go through your local authority.

Having a Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate will be beneficial, should you ever want to expand your business.

However, this isn't the only thing you need to be thinking about when running a food business from home, in order to let your customers know that the food you're selling is safe.

Which level should I choose?

There are three recognised food hygiene certificates; levels 1, 2 and 3. The first level is designed as a very basic introduction to food safety, and is therefore suited only for those who rarely come into contact with food as part of their job, or for students who might need basic knowledge on the subject. Level 2 however gives comprehensive knowledge of food safety best practice and laws, and is the one most widely recommended for anyone who works with food. The third level doesn’t cover anything additional that the home baker would need; it’s aimed more towards managers and policymakers in larger businesses.

We have broken down the different food hygiene training levels below, so you can decide which level is right for you.

Level 1 Food Safety and Hygiene - The Level 1 Food Hygiene course is a great way to introduce beginners to food safety. This may include cooking at home, work experience in a food environment, or self-development for those who have an interest in food handling.

Level 2 Food safety and Hygiene - This Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene Certificate for Catering course satisfies a food handler’s legal obligation to undertake appropriate food safety training.

The online course is suitable for anyone who handles or prepares food or is involved in the management of such people in a catering environment. This includes hotels, restaurants, takeaways, cafes, bars, fast food outlets, fish & chip shops, kitchens, hospitals, prisons, schools and colleges.

Level 3 Food Safety and Hygiene for Supervisors - The Level 3 Food Hygiene online course is suitable for anyone who is involved in the management or supervision of food handlers within a food environment.

It is recommended that all food premises should have at least one person trained to Level 3 in food hygiene and safety, particularly if they oversee other staff and are responsible for the training of those staff.

How to register a home-based business

A food business must be registered with the local authority by law. Before you make anything to be sold, you must get in touch with your local council to register your business.

You may need to apply for approval first, so make sure you do this well in advance of wanting to sell anything. If the local authority tells you that you need to register your business, you must do so with the environmental health service, at least 28 days before opening - you won't be charged for this.

Your local authority will also provide you with the appropriate training and tools to plan your business, but further e-learning resources on growing your business are available from Virtual College.

Do you need health and safety training?

For most businesses, legal obligation will be the strongest reason for health and safety being an important consideration. In the UK, we enjoy thorough and effective legislation pertaining to just about all potential aspects of health and safety, and these must be followed in all relevant situations. Failure to follow legal obligation can mean prosecution under the law, that can even extend to individual criminal convictions. For this reason, it’s essential that business leaders know what their responsibilities are. In some cases, failure to adhere to standards can mean closure of the business, which is the case when it comes to food hygiene inspections, which are an important part of health and safety in certain industries.

All businesses have a legal obligation to ensure that their employees are protected from harm in the workplace. Virtual College’s online Health and Safety course helps you to fulfil legal requirements for providing workplace training; it also promotes staff awareness that can lead to greater efficiency, lower insurance costs and a reduction in lost time.

Get the right equipment

When starting a business from home you can reduce a large amount of upfront costs as you’ll already have the premises and a large amount the required equipment. But it’s always best to prepare for when your business starts to grow and when you’ll need better and bigger equipment.

As soon as you begin taking orders your kitchen is about to become a lot busier make sure you know what utensils you’ll need and ensure you get multiples of each item to make sure you don’t run out when you have multiple order. Wholesale cookware shops and websites are the best place to buy such equipment and means you can save money compared to buying from a retailer.

Keep your home and work separate

Working from home can make it difficult to separate work and home life. Try to ensure you have adequate space for your work so that you don’t have to sacrifice other rooms of your home to work. Many home-based businesses utilize garages as production or storage facilities, (just make sure they comply with food hygiene legislation and guidelines) this can help with making a physical barrier between work and home. Another idea is to purchase a uniform for when you’re working this can give you phycological separation between work-life and homelife and allow you to physical change in between them.

Explore our full range of business courses here.

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