What should you do before a food hygiene inspection of your home-based business?

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Today, I’m going to share what you should do before a food hygiene inspection of your home-based business.

before food hygiene home

Hey! I’m Chartered Environmental Health Officer Natalie Stanton. And I’m here to help you get confident with food safety in your business.

If you’re preparing for a food hygiene inspection, whether you’re still at the setting up stage of your food business or just waiting for your inspection, there are important things you need to do to make sure everything goes well.

Let’s go over what you can do to be as prepared as possible.

1. Register Your Food Business

register business

First of all, you need to register your food business with your local authority. This is completely free and cannot be refused. Registration can be done online here.

Remember, you are technically meant to register at least 28 days before you plan to start trading. However, if you’ve already started trading without registering, don’t panic – just register straight away to comply with the regulations.

2. Food Hygiene Inspection Appointment

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Once registered, you may be contacted by an officer to arrange your food hygiene inspection. If your business operates from a residential address, the officer will need to contact you to make an appointment. For commercial businesses open to the public to walk in, the officer can turn up unannounced at any reasonable time, but home-based businesses need prior arrangement.

The officer may email you, but usually they will contact you via phone. I would often say to home-based business owners to use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have. I’m definitely not suggesting that you keep the officer on the phone for like an hour asking every question you can possibly think of. What I am recommending is that if you have something you’re not sure about, or perhaps a specific scenario or circumstances that you want to get their stance on before the inspection, ask them on the phone.

The reason I recommend this is because when it comes to your actual inspection, the officer must score based on what they find. So, it’s a good idea to make sure any potential issues can be addressed before your inspection.

3. Know Your Process

know your process

When officers inspect a restaurant or cafe, there is often an actual food preparation happening so they can really see what that business is doing and how they are managing food safety. Based on my experience, home-based businesses may not be actually preparing food at the time of inspection. For example; I’ve never been to inspect a home baker that was actually baking cakes when I turned up!

This is where you will need to give a bit of explanation to the officer about what you do, what your process is, and how you manage food safety for each step.

You might be thinking that you already know your process because you make your products every day or every week, but have you ever had to explain it to someone else? Especially when maybe, you’re feeling a little bit under pressure? Now, if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to, then I recommend making a bullet point list of your process from start to finish. Focus on the areas where food safety measures are implemented. You can also practice explaining your process to a friend or family member in preparation for your inspection.

4. Have a checklist

checklist

I recommend having a checklist for the key things the officer is going to check, such as:

  1. Food Safety System – Whether you use ‘Safer Food Better Business’ (SFBB) or another food safety system, ensure it is readily available.
  2. Records – If you keep records such as temperature logs for fridges and freezers, have these available. If you have an ‘SFBB’ pack, it may be that you record your opening and closing checks in the diary at the back of it. This diary forms part of your records.
  3. Allergen Information – Make sure you have clear information on allergens present in your products. The format in which you provide allergen information to your customers will vary based on your business and products. You can find more information on allergens on the Food Standards Agency website.
  4. Food Hygiene Certificate – Prepare your training certificates and those of your staff members, if applicable.
  5. Invoices/Receipts/Order Book – The officer might not actually want to see these, but it’s a good idea to have them ready on hand in case the officer requests to see them.

Have those items ready and laid out on your dining table or wherever you’re planning to take the officer when they come into your home. It will save you having to rush around during the inspection trying to find those things.

TL;DR

  • Make sure your food business is registered with your local authority.
  • If you operate from residential address, the officer will need to contact you to arrange your food hygiene inspection. If they contact you by phone, use this as an opportunity to ask any key questions.
  • Know your process so that you can explain it to the officer during your inspection.
  • Get the key documents ready before your inspection.

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Written by Chartered Environmental Health Officer, Natalie Stanton.

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Here's how I can help you

Get food safety training from an Environmental Health Officer (EHO). 

This is the UK’s first self-taught, online Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene course for Catering that is created and taught by EHO, Natalie Stanton. There are no PowerPoint slides and no monotonous voiceover. In only 2 hours, Natalie guides you through the key aspects of food safety in 13 short, pre-recorded videos.