Home bakers guide to hygiene

This guidance is aimed at cake makers and cake decorators that use domestic premises for their business and covers low risk products that do not require refrigeration. Following the suggested standards will help you comply with the relevant Food Safety Legislation.

Registration of a Food Business

Your home may have to be registered with us as a food business. This is free, and there is only one simple form to fill in, but it is a legal requirement and you can be prosecuted if you do not register before starting.

Download the registration form found on our Setting up a new food business and registration page, complete it and send in to the address on the bottom of the form.

Structural Standards

Domestic kitchens are not designed for commercial use and so might need some alteration to comply with the food safety laws.

  • Access to a wash basin just for washing hands. Where there is a one and a half sink, the half sink can be used for the hands, alternatively use another sink, for example in a utility area.
  • A toilet or bathroom which opens directly on to the kitchen is not allowed, it must have a lobby or another room with a door.
  • Decorative finishes which are easily cleanable are required by the law. For example bare wood, Artex ceilings and carpet may need replacing.
  • Domestic quality equipment may not meet the same standards required for commercial use. It may get worn out more quickly and may not be covered by warranty.
  • Increase in storage space may be required, for example dry storage or refrigeration space for large volumes of food.
  • Inadequate ventilation leading to condensation, mould growth, and damage to decoration. Depending on the amount of cooking, mechanical extraction may be required.
  • Problems with keeping the kitchen free of flies, ants, and other sources of contamination.
  • Limited working space and worktops may mean that cross contamination (the spread of harmful bacteria) becomes difficult to prevent.
  • Access to the kitchen by children, pets, or other people, during food production can make good hygiene difficult. Ensure access is controlled.
  • All food contact surfaces (worktops, cutting boards) must be in sound condition and be easy to clean and disinfect. Traditional domestic structural finishes may be satisfactory if they can be kept clean and are maintained in good repair, for example standard domestic laminate worktops are fine but bare wooden finishes are unacceptable.
  • All equipment used in the preparation of food must be in good condition, be easy to keep clean and if necessary disinfect. The use of wooden equipment such as cutting boards is not recommended, as they cannot be effectively disinfected. For more comprehensive food production it may be necessary to invest in commercial equipment.

Training

You may need to attend a food hygiene training course if you haven’t done one recently. One of the main requirements of the law is that all food handlers must know enough about food safety to allow them to work safely. This usually means passing a training course in food hygiene, at a level which is appropriate to the type of food being prepared.

Fitness To Work

You must not prepare or handle food if you are suffering from:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Infected cuts or boils
  • If you feel unwell (especially if you have returned from aboard in the last two weeks)
  • Or if anyone you share a house with has had typhoid or paratyphoid

If you have suffered from diarrhoea or vomiting you should not prepare food for others until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

It is an important part of your business that you identify the steps and activities that are critical to ensuring food safety. Having identified those steps you need to ensure that they are implemented.

If you do not follow the guidance below and have not completed the checklist and daily records you need to state how you control that aspect of your business.

Shopping and Storage

  • You should buy your ingredients from reputable reliable suppliers and make sure your raw materials are fresh.
  • Storage of your ingredients and your finished products must protect them from outside contamination. Storing dried goods in plastic lidded containers helps protects them from things like moulds, pests and chemicals.
  • Separating family use of the kitchen from business use can be very awkward, but is essential for good food hygiene a separate cupboard or storage containers that are clearly labelled can help.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • There must be provision for cleaning/disinfecting work surfaces, equipment and utensils.
  • Where possible use a dishwasher for equipment.
  • Clean as you go and do not allow germs to build up on surfaces. Pay particular attention to handles and switches where germs can be transferred to hands
  • It is good practice and essential if handling raw meat and vegetables to use a food grade antibacterial spray to disinfect food contact surfaces after first cleaning them. Your kitchen will be used for handling raw food as part of your normal domestic activities so you should start your preparation session with a clean down and disinfection.
  • Dirty, damp cloths are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and can spread germs easily on surfaces and equipment, so it is important to wash or replace them regularly. Ideally, different coloured cloths should be used for different jobs to stop harmful bacteria spreading.
  • If using re-usable cloths, make sure they are thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried between tasks and not just when they look dirty. Ideally, wash them in a washing machine on a hot cycle. If you notice dirty cloths in the kitchen, remove them for cleaning immediately or throw them away.

Personal Hygiene

  • Appropriate hand washing facilities must be provided nearby.
  • Wash hands regularly with warm water and soap to keep them clean.
  • Always wash them before touching food, after using the toilet, after touching pets or the dustbin and when they look dirty.
  • Hands should also be washed frequently while preparing food, especially between handling raw and ready to eat foods.
  • All food handlers must wear suitable clean, and where appropriate, protective clothing. Depending on the type of food, this may be just an apron.
  • No person who may be suffering from a disease likely to be transmitted through food should be allowed to work with food (for example vomiting, diarrhoea or viral infections).
  • If you have any cuts or grazes on exposed areas, make sure these are kept covered with a waterproof dressing. Don’t wipe your hands on the tea towel, use a separate kitchen towel.

Cooking

  • Ensure your foods are cooked evenly, a visual check is adequate for both sponge cake (press them gently to check, they should be springy to the touch) and fruit cake (when a skewer comes away clean).

Transport and Delivery

  • When transporting food, ensure it is covered to prevent it from becoming contaminated by dust or any other foreign bodies.

Documentation, Daily Checks and Records

  • It is an important part of your HACCP that you document your activities so that you can prove that you are taking the necessary precautions. Please see our Hygiene Advice for people making cakes for sale from home guidance.
  • Any change to the standards set out in this advice should be commented on and corrective action noted, for example, ingredients found to be out of date and thrown away or not used for business.

Allergen Management

Allergen management is essential in ensuring people who are intolerant or allergic to particular foods are not exposed to foods that could harm them. There are 14 common allergens that you as a food business should be aware of and include foods such as nuts, cereals, milk and fish. 

Be mindful of allergen cross contamination risks to food, for example, using the same equipment for different foods which may have different allergens present.

When selling your products, you should label the ingredients which are in the product and highlight whether any allergens are present so customers have suitable information.

The Food Standards Agency has useful guidance and free online training regarding allergen management.

Other Considerations

Planning Permission - Depending on the type and amount of food you prepare you may need planning permission to run a business from home, so take advice from our Development Control department.

Business Rates - You may have to pay increased rates if you use part of your property for a business. Contact our Business Rates Team for more information.

Insurance - Depending on the type and amount of food you prepare you might need to inform your home insurance provider to ensure you are covered for business use. You should consult your solicitor or insurance company.

Food Safety Law - The laws on food safety apply just the same to a business run from home as they do to all other commercial premises. You will be liable to regular inspections by officers from our Environmental Health service, and you may face legal action if you are found to be breaking the food hygiene laws. This also applies if you use a kitchen somewhere else to prepare food, for example a village or community hall kitchen.

Licensing - If you want to sell goods or services on the streets of the District, parks or open spaces then you may require some sort of Street Trading licence. There will often be a fee or charge payable. For more details please see our Street Trading Licences page. 

Labelling - You should consider people with food allergies and have some kind of warning on your food. In addition you should consider a suitable shelf life. If you are not selling direct to the final consumer but to a caterer to sell on you will require more detailed labelling and you are advised to contact the local Trading Standards authority. 

Traceability - You are required by law to keep a record of where you bought your ingredients (the items, who from and when) for traceability purposes and if supplying other retailers or caterers to sell your food on you must keep records of whom, when and what you supplied them. This is in case there is a food alert and you need to identify where you bought food from or you need to withdraw the food you sold.

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