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Is my kitchen suitable for a home baking business?

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One of the major concerns when bakers decide to move from making cakes and cookies for their friends and family to selling products to the general public, is whether their kitchen will meet the Environmental Health Department’s hygiene regulations. It sounds scary but the process is actually much simpler than you might expect.

Before starting your business you will need to take a Level 2 Food Safety in Catering course (formerly Basic Food Hygiene). You can complete this through your local council or online. The best place to search for courses is through the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health website (http://www.cieh.org/) where you can enter your postcode to find your nearest local trainer.

You will also need to register your business with your local authority at least 28 days before opening. You can find your nearest Environmental Health Officer through the Food Standards Agency website (http://www.food.gov.uk/enforcement/yourarea/). They will usually ask you questions about your business including what you intend to sell and in what quantities and they may wish to carry out an inspection of your premises. However, as long as you meet with the requirements listed below, then you shouldn’t have any problems getting your home baking business up and running.

The main things that you will need to think about are:

Surfaces – Floors, walls and worktops should be easy to clean and disinfect. This means they should be smooth, well-sealed and washable. Ceilings should also be in good condition with no flaky plaster. Most modern kitchens will be fine as long as you don’t have anything exotic like raw wooden worktops.

Doors and windows – Doors and windows should be easy to clean as most modern doors and windows are. It’s also important to try and prevent cross contamination caused by insects so it's a good idea to add fly screens to keep insects away from your food preparation areas. Insect screens should be easy to remove for cleaning so a stick-on fly screen is usually best.

Sinks – You must have one sink to be used for cleaning equipment and washing food and a separate one for washing hands. In most cases, a sink in a downstairs loo will do as long as it’s not too far away. If you don’t have a downstairs toilet then you may have to look at getting a second sink installed in your kitchen or nearby.

Fridges – It is best to have a separate fridge for food that is to be sold to the public to keep it apart from your own food. However, if this is not possible you should ensure that it is clear which foods are for business use and which are for personal use. All business items must be clearly labelled with dates and stored correctly (you’ll learn all about this in your Food Safety course).

Pets and children – Contrary to popular belief, you can run a home baking business if you have pets. However, pets should not be allowed in the kitchen or food preparation areas, which can be a problem in open plan houses or if you don’t have an alternate area where they can be fed etc. Children should also be kept out of the kitchen when food is being prepared.

Hopefully this has demystified things a little but, please note, the information above is just to give you an idea of the requirements your kitchen will need to meet and you should always seek advice from the Environmental Health Service at your local authority before starting along the path towards setting up a home baking business.



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