Last updated: 10.08.18

Starting a food business from home guide

So, you’ve decided to take the leap and open your own home food business, you’ve bought all the gear and set up your social media with the perfect hashtags. But when it comes to compliance and food safety procedure you feel lost.

Starting up a food business at home is extremely exiting but it can be tricky when it comes to ensuring you’re meeting UK requirements. Our guide to home food businesses will make sure that you know how to operate to the highest food safety standards and how to make sure your business is compliant with the law.

How to register a home-based business

First things first, you need to ensure you register your business with the local authority at least 28 days in advance of your business opening.

The FSA states that businesses must register with their local authority if they:

  • Sell food
  • Cook food
  • Prepare food
  • Store or handle food
  • Distribute food

The registration process is free and can’t be refused. In some cases, your business may have to seek approval from the local authorities to operate. This is usually when a business is supplying, handling or preparing meat, fish or dairy to other businesses. You can contact your local authority if you need more guidance on registering your business.

Food Hygiene ratings and inspections

After you’ve registered your business you may be visited and inspected by your local authority who will issue you with a food hygiene rating based on the condition and practice of your business.

It’s important that you get as much guidance and advice when preparing for an inspection. Take a look at our food hygiene rating guide to help you understand what the rating system means.

If you want more in-depth information, have a look at our CPD certified online training course about the food hygiene rating scheme, which includes how scores are calculated and what benefits a five-star rating can have for your business. Click here to view this Achieving a Five Star Food Hygiene Rating training course.

What food hygiene training do you need?

The FSA recommend the following guidelines when it comes to food hygiene training: ‘Any food handler in catering, manufacturing and retail must be supervised and trained in food hygiene and safety under Regulation (EC) 178/2002, the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006’.

Therefore, it is crucial that anyone you employ has the appropriate food hygiene training. Whether that is someone who rarely comes in contact with food or one who regularly stores and handles it – everyone must be able to carry out their duties properly. But training is not only useful for ensuring you meet these standards, being able to demonstrate your training to health inspectors is also a great way to increase your food hygiene rating score.

Which level should I choose?

There are three recognised food hygiene certificates: levels 1, 2 and 3.

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

This 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 home food businesses, 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 - Our 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 their training.

Further Training

E-learning is great way to efficiently increase your food training credentials and show customers that you are running a safe and hygienic business.

There is a wide range of courses you can take to help improve your food hygiene knowledge and run a successful business. Below are some of these courses which can help you when setting up a food business from home.

HACCP - Knowing how to clean and disinfect equipment, safely store and prepare food, and control common pests will allow you to handle food safely and ensure that you’re complying with all the relevant health and safety standards.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and is all about ensuring that staff can prevent and control food-borne illnesses, and stop consumers from being exposed to hazardous contamination from their premises.

Using the HACCP system became a legal requirement in food safety management from January 1st, 2006. It helps food businesses to safeguard their customers from illness or injury due to the consumption of unsafe food.

Food allergy awareness - Food Allergy Awareness Training is designed to help learners identify the fourteen food allergens which must, by law, be recognised, and to understand why foods containing allergens must be handled carefully.

Currently, there are no known cures for food allergies and intolerances. Some consumers must avoid certain foods and ingredients at all costs to prevent reactions, which in some cases can prove life-threatening. 

Coffeeshop essentials Our essentials pack covers a wide range of training courses and includes food hygiene training, health and safety and compliance training to ensure your new food business meets multiple legal guidelines.

Finding out what training you need for your new business can be a difficult task. That’s why we’ve created this essential training pack to ensure your business and employees can get the training they need.

Do you need health and safety training?

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. Therefore, for most businesses, their legal obligation will be the strongest motive for undertaking health and safety training.

Failure to follow your legal obligations can mean prosecution under the law, which 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 offers wide range of online Health and Safety courses  to help your business fulfil its legal requirements for providing workplace training. Some of the courses on offer include:

Manual Handling training

Fire Safety Training

First Aid: primary survey

Health and Safety also promotes staff awareness that can lead to greater efficiency, lower insurance costs and a reduction in lost time due to accidents.

Get the right equipment

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

As soon as you begin taking orders, your kitchen will become a lot busier, so make sure you know what utensils you will need and ensure you get multiples of each item to make sure you don’t run out when you have numerous orders. Wholesale cookware shops and websites are the best place to buy such equipment as 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 your work and home life. Try to ensure you have adequate space for your work so that you don’t have to sacrifice other rooms in your home.

Many home-based businesses utilise garages as production or storage facilities, as this can help with making a physical barrier between work and home - just make sure they comply with food hygiene legislation and guidelines!

Another idea is to purchase a work uniform, which will help create a psychological separation between work-life and homelife and allow you to physically change between them.

Explore our full range of business courses here.

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