Starting a food business from your home kitchen is an attractive proposition for many, whether full time or as a profitable sideline.
Whether you bake beautiful cakes to sell to your friends, make pickles and jams for a market stall, or even give away your hearty home-made stew to a local homeless shelter, you need to comply with the law pertaining to food businesses.
The main requirement will be registering your home kitchen with the local authority, who will then send an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to come (without warning) and inspect your kitchen to make sure it meets safe food management, storage and preparation standards.
EHOs will measure up your home kitchen and give it a Food Hygiene Rating out of 5, just the same way they do any food business. Your kitchen will be inspected for the same requirements as the best restaurant in town, or the burger van on the corner.
How To Prepare for a Home Kitchen Inspection
There’s no need to dread an EHO inspection if you’re well prepared – and the best way to be prepared is to be knowledgeable about the law, the standards required and all the relevant paperwork you’ll need to produce, such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) documents.
You’ll also need to get your kitchen into tip-top condition, and that means super clean and sparkling – not just the work surfaces but every inch of it floor to ceiling! The same goes for all your equipment (don’t forget the inside of the fridge/freezer).
Make sure everything works and all appliances and utensils are in good condition. Also ensure the kitchen and food storage areas are free of pests (and family pets!).
Home Kitchen Inspection Checklist
An EHO will arrive in your kitchen with a very comprehensive checklist to work through, particularly when it comes to food hygiene and safety procedures.
To make sure you are ready for your food activities to be scrutinised, you should pay close attention to what’s on the food hygiene checklist so you can be confident that you’ll pass muster.
To give an idea of what you need to be ready for, the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) has put together a Hygiene Inspection Checklist which you may find informative – if not a little daunting!
The EHO will not only be assessing what he/she can see on the day of the inspection, but will dig a little deeper into your home kitchen food business to check on your ongoing food safety management system and records. You’ll need to be able to engender “confidence in management” in the way you manage your business and your paperwork.
What Happens if A Kitchen Fails an Inspection?
After a home kitchen hygiene inspection your premises will be rated by the EHO. A top score of five is the ideal, four is reasonable, but anything under three might see you have to close down your business until you’ve made the required improvements recommended by the inspector.
Your rating will be displayed for all to see on the food hygiene ratings website so it can be incredibly important for the reputation of your business. You can also advertise your rating with a sticker in your home kitchen itself, or add it to your business website.
Professional Training in Food Hygiene
An EHO inspection of your home kitchen need not be something to be feared, but rather an opportunity to show confidence in the high standard of your food business.
It certainly helps to be helped along by some professional training – a great investment in your business going forward.
The Food Standards Agency recommends that anyone starting a food business pursues a food hygiene qualification to improve your knowledge and further the cause of food safety in Britain. Accredited training providers like AMCAS offer Food Hygiene Certificate courses at various levels which are ideal for ensuring you achieve that vital 5-star Food Hygiene Rating for your home-based food business.
Call AMCAS on 07979 904155 or 01985 213921 to learn more about our food safety training courses, which can be tailored especially for you and your business.