There seems to be an increase in people setting up catering home. Some people are brand new to the industry, branching out in to areas they haven’t previously ventured. A lot of people have either lost jobs or been on furlough over the last few months, People making cakes and selling them on Facebook during lockdown which has now become a business. Chefs thinking of setting up a catering business from home. In the event that you had a complaint, you would want to be able to prove you had taken all reasonable precautions. We have seen an increase in enquiries form people thinking of setting up a catering business from home.
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Setting up a catering business from home
Previous blogs have covered food safety considerations regarding reopening, but I thought it would be useful to outline some of the considerations when setting up a new food business, or catering from home. This isn’t an exhaustive list but some key areas to consider, please get in touch if you have any specific questions. Other general considerations in all food premises will include having effective temperature control, cleaning procedures, and an effective date rotation system, all of which will be documented in your food safety management system.
Registration of food premises
If you are catering from home, or renting a kitchen space from another premises, you need to register as a food premises. This is free to do, and once done should result in an initial inspection. There is a link below to guidance from the FSA regarding registering a food premises, it can be done online. https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/register-a-food-business You also need to re-register when there is a change, such as change of owner, or change in your procedures (for example, if you started to do rare burgers)
Structure and design of food prep area and facilities
A lot of people would find it daunting to set up a food business from home. Most people from a catering background will be familiar with commercial kitchens often being stainless steel throughout. However the law requires that walls, for example, are cleanable and well maintained but it does not mention specific materials to use. There are requirements for floor coverings, walls, surfaces etc. In most cases a domestic kitchen can be adapted to suit food preparation, with simple, easy changes where necessary, and minimal cost. It’s always best to liaise with your local authority environmental health department from an early stage.
The law that specifies the requirements in a food premises regarding the design of a food premises can be found at the following link,
Annex II ‘General requirements for all food business operators’ https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2004:139:0001:0054:en:PDF
There are very useful ‘Industry Guides to Good Hygiene Practice’ which provide guidance on the law, but do get in touch if you need any help. https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/industry-guides-to-good-food-hygiene
HACCP / Food Safety Management Systems
Record keeping can be a daunting prospect for a small business if you have been familiar with keeping numerous food safety records in larger operations. The law requires that you have a food safety management system that is appropriate to the nature and size of the food business. A very simple, free solution is the Food Standards Agency’s Safer Food Better Business folder. This is an easy-to-use food safety management system (based on HACCP principles), although depending on your food business there may be other records that you incorporate in to it. You need to have a food safety management system that is appropriate for your business (not unduly complicated) and identifies and controls food safety hazards within your business. Your record keeping should be sufficient that you can demonstrate that food has been stored and handled safely.
The FSA Safer Food Better Business pack is available to download here: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/sfbb-caterers-pack-fixed.pdf
It is fairly straight forward, can be downloaded for free, and doesn’t take long to set up. However if you find you need some assistance, or need a more bespoke HACCP system, please get in touch to discuss your options. We offer coaching on the correct use and implementation of the SFBB pack. Get in touch if you have any queries regarding setting up a SFBB system, we are happy to talk it through over the phone, for no charge of course.
Cross Contamination Guidance
Another main guidance document that should be read in conjunction with the SFBB pack is the guidance on how to control cross contamination when preparing and storing food. This guidance is available from the FSA: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/e.-coli-0157-cross-contamination-guidance_0.pdf
A briefer summary for caterers is available here: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/e.-coli-o157-cross-contamination-caterers-factsheet.pdf
If you do need a more complex system, the FSA have a website, MyHACCP, which contains a lot of guidance on how to implement a HACCP system, with example documentation: https://myhaccp.food.gov.uk/
As in any food business, allergens need to be controlled carefully and allergen information must be available. How you provide allergen information will depend on your food business; guidance for packaged foods, prepacked foods for direct sale, and loose/ open foods is available from the FSA.
Detailed guidance on allergen labelling requirements can be found here: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/fsa-food-allergen-labelling-and-information-requirements-technical-guidance_0.pdf
Allergen labelling and communicating allergens
Allergens information needs to be available at the point of ordering ( are orders taken on Twitter, Facebook or online), but also at the time of delivery.
There is guidance which, whilst aimed at existing catering business adapting during COVID, will be relevant regarding deliveries and orders for all catering premises, large and small, existing or new. https://www.cieh.org/media/4070/covid-19-food-delivery-and-takeaway-guidance.pdf
Changes to allergen labelling in 2021 – see the link attached for changes coming that affect food which is ‘prepacked for direct sale’ https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-information-for-prepacked-for-direct-sale-food
There has been a growing increase in the number of people eating a gluten-free diet, so there is a temptation to offer a ‘gluten-free’ product (I happen to have seen a lot advertised on Facebook). Foods can only be labelled as gluten-free if they contain 20 PPM or less gluten
CoeliacUK provide very detailed guidance on how to safely prepare gluten free foods, and have details of the ‘Coeliac UK’ accreditation scheme which can demonstrate your commitment to your customers. https://www.coeliac.org.uk/food-businesses/caterers-and-restaurateurs/
There is a very good guidance document: ‘gluten free guidance for caterers’ which can be downloaded as a pdf and outlines the gluten free legislation and what may be done to safely prepare gluten free foods. https://www.coeliac.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/news/updated-guidance-for-the-catering-industry-download-your-copy/
They also have very good gluten free training which would be recommended to complete if considering offering gluten-free foods. https://www.glutenfreetraining.org/
If you need any help developing you allergen management procedures, we are very experienced at helping food businesses review their allergens procedures and can provide allergens audits. Get in touch if you have any queries
The FSA provide really good, free online allergens training, which is ideal as an induction to food allergens and how to control them. https://allergytraining.food.gov.uk/english/
If you feel that you need more detailed training, we now offer the Level 2 Award in Food Allergen Awareness and Level 3 Award in Food Allergen Management on Zoom as an in-house course for a whole team, or just one person, get in touch for details