Last updated: 11.09.17

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

How do you start a home baking business?

If you’ve got a flair for baking you might decide to set up your own food business and sell cakes and other treats from home. But do you need a food hygiene certificate first?

On a whole, the UK has a sweet tooth. We love cakes, treats, sweets and anything with a little bit of sugar in - which means there will always be a demand for delicious desserts. If you’ve got a flair for baking, enjoying throwing together recipes and whipping up tasty treats, then you may have considered making a profit out of it. Independent food businesses across the UK have surged in the past few years. This is driven by many factors, including high profile TV shows, and of course social media. Now more than ever it’s easier to gather skills and inspiration, but also market your own products without having to invest significant money.

However, even if you just want to start selling cakes from the comfort of your own home, there are a few things you must do to legitimise your business and let your customers know that the food you are selling is safe.

How do I register my business?

Before selling cakes or any type of food, you must be in contact with your local authority. They will tell you whether or not you need to register your business or if you need to apply for approval. The rules and processes are not always the same between local authorities, and there are some differences between England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, so it’s imperative you get in touch with your local council to clarify the requirements.

They will also help you plan your business and provide you with the appropriate training and tools if required, though this may cost money. If the local authority tells you to register your business you must do so with the environmental health service at least 28 days before opening. There is no charge to do this.

Do I need a food hygiene certificate?

While a food hygiene certificate isn’t compulsory it is strongly recommended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and other official bodies. Under EU law, anyone working with food must have appropriate training for their role. The EU regulations do not explicitly state what this training must be or how it is provided, but it’s widely recognised that the food hygiene certificates are a good method of adhering to them.

Having such a qualification will also be recognised by other businesses and customers who may be interested in your products. Like larger food businesses, food hygiene and safety is just as important when you are selling cakes from home. Not only does it back you up if you ever want to expand your business, but it also shows your customers that you care about their safety. Having the knowledge will also ensure that you don’t face issues down the line with dissatisfied customers or food inspectors.

Level 2 course banner 

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.

Where can I get training in food 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 speed up your certification and complete your training in your own time in an environment that suits you. All of our courses are engaging and interactive, and are designed to ensure you acquire the knowledge you need.

Related resources