It is common for commercial food production to be undertaken in a dwelling house, although it is normally only a very simple, low capacity food business. You will have to make sure that your kitchen, and any other rooms used, meet the requirements of food hygiene regulations. Your food business will need to be registered in the same way as any other food business.
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 periodic inspections by officers and you may face legal action if you are found to be breaking food hygiene laws. This also applies if you use a kitchen somewhere else to prepare food (e.g. village hall kitchen) and the kitchen or your own hygienic practices, fail to meet the proper standards. Officers are required to give 24 hours notice when intending to visit a domestic premises to undertake an inspection.
The areas of a private home used as a food business need to be sited, designed, constructed, kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition, so as to avoid the risk of contaminating foodstuffs and harbouring pests. Controlling food hazards in a domestic premises may be difficult (e.g. restricting access to food rooms by persons not involved in the food operation (including children)and by pets; the use of food rooms for other activities eg washing dirty clothes, storage of pet foods and feeding of pets, and family eating).
Food Safety Management System
Food business operators must have a food safety management system in place. This must be in writing, but how food business operators meet this requirement will depend on the size and the nature of the business. The Food Standards Agency have developed the Safer Food Better Business Pack (SFBB) for this purpose, but the pack is generally aimed at larger, more high risk food premises and therefore parts of the pack will not apply to your business. You may therefore wish to use a simplified food safety management system [Word 227 KB] and a daily check sheet [Word 42 KB], which you should amended to reflect your business and what you do. Further information is available on our Safer Food, Better Business webpage.
Your kitchen must be suitably designed to allow for safe working practices. In particular, to enable the separation of raw and ready to eat foods during food storage, preparation, and cooking. In general terms the structure of your kitchen must be sound. It must be capable of being cleaned effectively and kept clean. Most types of decor should be acceptable if they comply with this requirement.
In particular, the work surfaces should be smooth non absorbent and capable of effective cleaning, as must the walls, ceiling and floor. Carpet is not a suitable flooring in the kitchen. A sanitiser spray or disinfectant spray is ideal for killing any harmful bacteria on work surfaces. If the walls are papered this must be kept in good condition.
All other parts of the structure, must be maintained in a sound, clean condition, capable of easy and frequent cleaning and if necessary disinfection. The kitchen must be adequately lit (in order to check that food is adequately cooked and to see that it is clean). It should also have suitable ventilation, for example windows that can be opened.
There must be a deep sink with a constant supply of hot and cold water properly connected to the drainage system for the washing of equipment. Soap and a towel must be available at the sink.
If you have a private water supply such as a well, spring or borehole, please contact us to discuss this further. The water will need to be tested to ensure that it is safe to drink as you are supplying it to members of the public. Please see our pages on Private Water Supplies.
Food Handling Practices and Training
Personal hygiene must be of a high standard at all times. Regular hand washing must be undertaken especially before any food is handled. Always wash your hands before handling food and:
- After going to the toilet
- After handling rubbish
- After touching uncooked meat
- After handling or feeding pets
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
We would recommend the use of a liquid anti bacterial soap.
Clean clothing and a clean apron must be worn when handling food, to ensure that it is not contaminated. Use single use cloths wherever possible. If you use reusable cloths then always use a new or clean cloth to clean surfaces or utensils that will be used for ready to eat foods. If a cloth is used for uncooked meat or eggs it should removed for washing. Wash or disinfect cloths and fabric hand towels every day either on a hot cycle in the washing machine or by hand using a disinfectant and hot water.
Any raw food (such as raw meat, chicken etc) should be stored in the bottom of your refrigerator to prevent cross contamination. All foods should be kept covered and no food should be stored in open tins (always decant into a suitable lidded container).
The legal requirement is that 'high risk' foods (such as cooked meat and ready to eat foods, such as sandwiches) must be kept at or below 8°C. Ideally at a temperature of between 3°C to 5°C. The recommended operating temperature for a freezer is minus 18 to minus 21°C, and the freezer unit should be defrosted on a regular basis. Manufacturer's star ratings guidance on storage times must be adhered to.
Cooking and preparation of Foods
You must prepare uncooked and ready to eat foods separately. Do not use the same chopping board, work surface or knives unless they have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between the different foods. You must prepare uncooked and ready to eat foods separately. Do not use the same chopping board, work surface or knives unless they have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between the different foods.
If your washing machine or tumble dryer is located in your kitchen ensure that washing is undertaken at a different time to food preparation. Ensure that work surfaces are thoroughly cleaned before food preparation and that dirty laundry is not stored in the kitchen area.
Pets should not be allowed in the kitchen area when food preparation is being undertaken. If you do have pets all work surfaces must be cleaned and sanitised / disinfected prior to food preparation.
If you have been suffering from sickness and or diarrhoea (including the last 48 hours after the last bout of illness) you must not prepare or cook food.
It is recommended that eggs are stored in the refrigerator.
You must make sure that the state of repair of your property prevents access by pests into your kitchen. Keep lids on internal and external bins, and ensure bins are washed out regularly. If you see any signs of pests immediate action must be taken to eradicate them and you must throw away any food that they come into contact with. If you think you have an infestation of pests we would advise that you seek professional advice.