Starting a Food Business from Home
2 February 2023
Starting a food business from home can be a rewarding business venture. However, it is only for those committed to maintaining the highest level of hygiene and food safety. Producing food in your home for many people to eat is a serious undertaking. It is not the same as cooking for the family! You will be entering into a highly regulated business area with serious legal obligations. Food business operators are legally responsible for producing food that is safe.
Food Hygiene Legislation
Operating a food business from home does not exempt your business from the requirements of the food hygiene legislation (Regulation EC 852/2004). This legislation sets out requirements for:
- Registration of the business with the Health Service Executive (HSE).
- Hygiene rules to be complied with.
- Food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) to ensure the production of safe food.
- Traceability systems and recall procedures in the event of unsafe food being placed on the market.
Where food of animal origin, e.g. meat, poultry, eggs, fish, unpasteurised milk, is being processed, you may also need to comply with the legislation setting down specific hygiene rules for foods of animal origin (Regulation 853/2004). In some cases, the business may require approval by the HSE.
You should contact your local HSE office as soon as possible to check if your home is suitable for the intended food business activities. Contact details for local HSE offices are available HERE (Contact details if you’ve made a complaint about a food business and want to follow it up with the local food inspector, or if you need to register your business).
Compliance with additional legislation may be required depending on the type of product which you intend to make, e.g. labelling, additives, marketing standards for eggs, nutrition and health claims etc.
Full details of all food legislation can be found on FSAI website page Food Legislation.
Possible Pitfalls when Operating a Food Business from Home
Starting a food business from home can present specific problems that you should be aware of.
1) Food can become contaminated due to:
- Normal domestic activities – there must be proper segregation of business and domestic food preparation and activities.
- Poor hygiene – not washing hands properly or frequently enough, particularly after using the toilet, handling refuse etc., dirty cloths and tea towels, poor cleaning. practices, dirty equipment/utensils etc.
- Working when ill, particularly when suffering from vomiting/diarrhoea, infected skin wounds, flu, coughing and infections of the mouth, throat, eyes or ears.
- Changing/feeding babies in food preparation areas.
- People or pets entering food preparation areas.
- Facilities being too small.
2) Production of too much food for the size of the area.
3) Insufficient/unsuitable refrigerator space to keep food chilled.
4) Lack of equipment necessary to cool food fast enough after cooking.
5) The type of food being produced or the process involved presents too high a risk to take place safely in a domestic kitchen.
6) Food may be supplied to a vulnerable group, e.g. babies and young children, pregnant women and the elderly.
Food which is prepacked by the manufacturer before being brought for sale at a farmers market or other food stall is subject to the full labelling rules. All of the mandatory information, must then appear on the product label. More information on what is required to be declared on the label is available in FSAI factsheet Food Information for Consumers at Markets Operated by Country Markets Limited. These rules also apply where it is intended to sell your produce in local retail premises.
Additional food safety related useful information can be found on FSAI website.
Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!
Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.
To find out more, please check our Courses page.
Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email firstname.lastname@example.org