There’s no place like home, and it could be the perfect location to start your food business. You’ll be able to give your recipes a family touch that you can offer to customers.
But before you start to sell your homely helpings, you have to turn your house into a property that follows regulations. If you don’t, you can face closure, fines or even convictions.
This guide discusses food business from home regulations, including:
- Risk assessment
- Food hygiene
- Online and delivery
Food regulations from home key regulations:
Before you start to sell anything, you’ll need to register as a food business. It’s free to do, but you should apply 28 days before you open to ensure it goes through in time.
A food business can include those who either:
- Handle food
- Cook food
- Store food
- Supply food
- Sell food
If you run a food business without registration, you can receive a fine or face a prison sentence of up to two years.
When you set up a business from home, you may need to ask permission from the relevant groups:
- Landlords — if you rent your home, ask whether they permit you to start your business.
- Mortgage provider — you may need to ask whether you can start a business with your mortgage arrangement.
- Local council –– if you put a business sign outside your home or expect lots of customers to arrive, you might need to alert your council.
To comply with food business from home regulations, you should carry out a risk assessment of your property.
The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing safety laws. They expect risk assessments to include:
- Identifying hazards — e.g. raw meat.
- Assessing your risks — e.g. salmonella.
- Controlling those risks — e.g. clean areas after meat preparation.
- Recording what you find — e.g. which areas to clean.
- Reviewing your controls — e.g. use different knives to prepare meat as well.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a crucial safety guideline set out by the Food Standards Agency.
It demonstrates that your business has a safety management system in place. A HACCP plan will often be a priority for health inspectors.
Like risk assessments, you should identify hazards and places where they could arise. For example, the fridge could be an area for cross-contamination.
Your HACCP plan looks at each area as a control point that you can improve to reduce the likelihood of any hazards impacting food safety.
A crucial element to food business from home regulations is food hygiene. You need to prove you can maintain the same level of hygiene as a dedicated food property.
To help you achieve that, the Food Standards Agency recommend you focus on the 4C’s:
Food hygiene rating
After you register a food business, you can expect to receive a visit from an inspector to issue your Food Hygiene Rating.
You’ll get a rating between 1-5, and it depends on:
- Food handling
- Food storage
- Food preparation
- Facility cleanliness
- Food safety management (risk assessment and HACCP)
After you get your rating, you’ll receive a sticker to display and add to delivery channels if you use them (e.g. Just Eat or Deliveroo).
But this is only compulsory in Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s optional in England. Scotland has their own Food Hygiene Information Scheme to offer you a pass or let you know if you need improvements .
You have a legal responsibility to follow food business from home regulations for allergen management. The main priority is to provide your customers with relevant information to avoid an allergic reaction.
Allergy information can be included on food labelling for packaged food or communicated on the menu if it’s not packaged.
It’s vital to tell your customers if your food contains one of the 14 allergens:
- Cereals with gluten (e.g. barley or oats)
- Crustaceans (e.g. prawns or lobsters)
- Molluscs (e.g. oysters or mussels)
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites
- Tree nuts (almonds or hazelnuts)
Part of allergen management ensures that no traces of these ingredients contaminate the food that does not have them labelled.
Another set of regulations when running a food business from home relates to the traceability of what you sell. You must follow the rules set out by the Food Standards Agency to make sure that you can withdraw or recall unsafe food.
To comply with the law, you must record:
- Your food or ingredient suppliers.
- Businesses you supply with food or ingredients.
Those records must be kept up to date and be accessible if you have an inspection.
Online and delivery
If you sell your food online or deliver it to your customers, there may be additional regulations.
If you sell through your website, you should provide information on where customers can find your allergen information.
But if you sell through an online website like Amazon, they might have their own allergen requirements.
Even if you sell your food online, you still need to comply with UK food law, so you should still consider:
- Food safety
- Food withdrawals and recalls
To follow food laws for deliveries, you should ensure that it’s safe to eat when it arrives at your customers’ homes. For example, food that should be kept cold you can transport in a cool box.
When you offer food deliveries, the allergy information still should be communicated to the customers, either before they buy it or as allergen stickers when it gets to them.
Keep your business finance separate with Countingup
When you run a food business from home, it can be a challenge to maintain a good work and home balance.
It’s the same with your finances, if you use your personal account for business expenses or receiving payments can complicate your account management.
Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software, to help keep financial management separate and secure.