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Home catering advice

(Including Cake Businesses Operating From Home)

The list below is not exhaustive and you should still refer to the ‘Starting up a new food business’ information booklet for more detailed food hygiene advice.


  • Ensure that you have registered the business with Environmental Health at least 28 days before intending to start trading. ·
  • Food operators must ensure they and anyone else working with food in the business are appropriately instructed, supervised and/or trained. It is recommended that staff undergo Food Hygiene Training equivalent to Level 2 Certificate in Food Hygiene.
  • The law requires that you put in place a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), in proportion to the size and nature of your business. If your products contain high risk foods e.g. Protein foods such as fresh cream, cheese, eggs or meats then you will need to have a documented Food Safety Management System in place e.g. “Safer Food Better Business”.

Personal Hygiene

  • Always wash hands before preparing food and at key steps whilst preparing food. Efficient hand washing involves the use of hot water, antibacterial soap, nailbrush and disposable hand towels.
  • Always wear clean protective clothing that will not give rise to contamination of food, for example pet hairs, woollen fibres, loose buttons etc.
  • Before preparing food remove excess jewellery, broaches etc as jewellery harbours dirt and bacteria and can fall into food.
  • Do not smoke or, touch your hair, nose or mouth whilst the food is being prepared.
  • If you have a cut make sure you cover it with a colourful waterproof dressing, not a gauze dressing.
  • If you have sores, boils, septic lesions or any other type of skin condition do not attempt to prepare and handle food for consumption by other persons.
  • If you have symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea do not attempt to prepare food. Ensure you do not prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have ceased. 
  • A wash hand basin, with hot water, soap and towels, must be easily accessible from the kitchen, preferably in the kitchen itself and should be designated for hand washing only.
  • Make sure food-contact surfaces, bowls and utensils are clean before preparing food.
  • Never use equipment and/or utensils for raw foods and then cooked foods without cleaning and disinfecting it.
  • Ensure that any commercial catering in the kitchen is carried out at separate times to domestic activities. This includes the preparation of food for personal consumption, washing clothes or other domestic tasks.
  • Do not allow pets, pet food or their litter tray into the kitchen during commercial catering times as they harbour bacteria and are a potential for hair and other contamination.
  • If you have young children or toddlers, keep them out of the kitchen while you are preparing food for your business.


  • Make sure ingredients are of good quality.
  • Buy ingredients from a reputable supplier, preferably just before you need them, and make sure that they are well within their “use by” and “best before” dates.
  • Keep ready-to-eat foods, for example cakes and biscuits away from raw foods, such as raw meat and poultry.
  • Never add raw shell egg (yolk or white) to a ready-to-eat product or in anything that won’t be thoroughly cooked, for example as an ingredient for icing or mousse etc. It is recommended you use “lion stamped” eggs.

Safe Storage of Food

  • Cheesecake and products that contain cream or butter-cream icing must be kept in a refrigerator at 8°C or less (ideally at 5°C).
  • Cover food - all products must be protected from contamination, for example:
    • Bacterial contamination from - raw foods, refuse, dirty hands, animals, insects etc.
    • Chemical contamination from - cleaning agents, disinfectants etc.
    • Physical contamination from - hair, jewellery, buttons, pet hair, etc
  • Check labels for storage instructions and ensure food is not left unrefrigerated for long periods of time.
  • Keep raw items of meat, poultry, fish and other foods below cooked or ready to eat foods and in a leak-proof container if possible.
  • The coldest part of your refrigerator should be kept between 0°C and 5°C. It is recommended that you provide a thermometer so that you can monitor this temperature.
  • Don’t overload your refrigerator or it’s efficiency will suffer. It is recommended that if large quantities of food need to be stored under temperature control, then a separate designated fridge is provided.
  • Prepare foods that need to be refrigerated last – don’t leave them standing around, and aim to cool cooked foods within 1 hour to 90 minutes.
  • Protect the ingredients and the finished cakes / products from contamination from other foods, particularly foods that could contain nuts (if making cakes with nuts, it is a good idea to make these last so that other foods are less likely to be contaminated).
  • Keep cheesecakes and any cakes or desserts containing cream or butter icing in the fridge until needed. Once prepared, make sure they are sold/eaten whilst fresh and fit for human consumption (Dispose of any unfit food promptly).
  • Store cakes / finished products in a clean, sealable container, away from raw foods, especially raw meat.

Transport of Food

  • Products should be placed into a food-grade container, preferably with a tight-fitting lid. High risk foods including cheesecake and products that contain cream/butter-cream icing should kept cool with the aid of “ice-packs”.
  • Make sure the vehicle is clean and does not present a risk of contamination to such products. Selling food at stalls, events etc.
  • Transport food in clean, sealable containers, and keep any “unwrapped Food” such as cakes covered - particularly when being sold or served outdoors.
  • Make sure that any high risk foods including cheesecakes and any cakes or desserts containing cream or butter icing are out of the fridge for the shortest time possible (use ice boxes if you don’t have access to enough fridge space).
  • Avoid handling foods – sell “individually wrapped” food, or use tongs or a cake knife to serve food. 
  • Have some means of washing hands and equipment (if used) - either a nearby sink or wash hand basin, or some bowls, soap, towel and some kind of portable water supply (e.g. flasks of hot water).
  • Make sure all food contact materials / food wrappings are ‘sterile’ and “food grade”.

Business (Trading) Name & Insurance

  • All businesses / trading entities must have a formal trading name, which must be displayed in a prominent position where suppliers and customers have access to it, at every premises where that business operates.
  • The trading name(s) and business address must appear on all Orders, Invoices, Receipts and Demands for payment.
  • The main types of Insurance to consider / obtain are:-
    • Employers’ Liability Insurance- under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969
    • Public Liability insurance
    • Product Liability insurance.

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