Selling Food From Home – A Guide to Licensing & Regulations

Taking the plunge and setting up a business selling food from home can be a daunting yet very exciting time. Home based businesses have become increasingly common over recent years, perhaps, in part, as a result of the pandemic.

Finding your niche and then running with your ideas can be an extremely rewarding challenge. Before you get to the selling part though, there are licenses and regulations to be adhered to. Getting the basics right first time will help avoid licensing and tax related pitfalls.

Don’t worry, it’s very straightforward. If you follow the right procedures, it’s not difficult to set up a venture selling food from your home kitchen.


Register With Environmental Health

Your first task when setting up for selling food from home will be registering as a business via Environmental Health.

This means contacting your local authority at least 28 days before you plan to open for business. These requests are not refused. However the EHO will inspect your premises once you are up and running. When you’ve been inspected, they will issue your business with a food hygiene rating.


Register With HMRC

Start your food business right from the outset and register with the HMRC. You will need to decide what type of business you want to be. Most small businesses start out initially as a sole trader.

You might have decided to hire an accountant to take care of the financial side of things. However, you still need to register with HMRC. Even if you don’t make enough to pay tax it’s still a legal requirement for you to submit an tax return.


Public Liability Insurance

Public Liability insurance is a great way to protect yourself when self-employed. Having the right cover will give you protection in the event of legal action being taken against your business.

The relatively low yearly fee for this insurance can be put through your books as a business expense.


Safer Food, Better Business Pack

This free, downloadable pack is fantastic for any business that has dealings with food from childminders through to cake makers.

There is a wealth of information in the pack. By having a copy to hand you’ll be able to answer any questions that might crop up during your food inspection.

Download yours here.


Food Hygiene Certificate

There is no better way to demonstrate your compliance with the UK food safety laws than to get a food hygiene certificate.

When you are inspected, your environmental health worker will look for proof that you are following the correct protocols. Refreshing your food hygiene certification every few years is a great way to keep well informed of all relevant legislation.

Our guide looks at how to get food hygiene certificates and which one you’ll need for your new business.


Inform Your Mortgage Lender Or Landlord

It is always worth giving a courtesy call to your mortgage lender or landlord before opening. Some types of home insurance or house deeds may have specific references to working from home in them.

You should talk with your home insurer about how your business plans may affect your cover. If you need to claim on your insurance and the incident was related to undisclosed business activities, you might run into problems.

Most insurers will be happy to help. In many cases running a business from home won’t make a big difference to your cover.


Consider A Business Bank Account

Something to consider is to set up a separate business bank account. That means all your incomings and outgoings in the account are related to your work.

You can see at a glance what your projections are going to be and it makes the tax return process much simpler too.


How to Prepare Your Home Food Business for an EHO Visit

It can be daunting waiting for your inspection date so you can ease some of the stress by following our top tips for success, found below.

  • They are not the enemy – they are there to help, support, and advise you as best they can. There are no trick questions and they aren’t setting you up to fail.
  • Have all the paperwork to hand that your inspector will want to see such as food hygiene, your Safer Food, Better Business and your food business registration.
  • Have a read of legislation and think over what you learned in your food hygiene course as some of these topics might come up during inspection.
  • Have a thorough clean of your home, pay close attention to the kitchen area and be sure you have everything in its correct place.
  • Make sure all your equipment is fit for purpose and you have different knives and boards for different food groups.
  • Your inspector may well wish to see your handwashing facilities so make sure this area is also clean and tidy.
  • Keep your premises hygienic by staying on top of jobs such as waste disposal.
  • You may need to show your inspector your vehicle if you use this for food deliveries and any accompanying paperwork.
  • Be sure to have a fire extinguisher or blanket within your eye view and any relevant risk assessments and smoke alarm tests.
  • Have your fridge stocked appropriately with raw food at the bottom and make sure the temperature is correct.
  • Have your food probe to hand as your inspector may ask to see what you use.

Can I Set Up a Home Takeaway Food Business?

There are no legal obstacles to offering a home takeaway food business, as long as you set your business up properly. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have all you need to legally operate.

People setting up home takeaway food businesses has gained popularity over the years. Some businesses offer service right to the customers door. Others make use of a delivery service.

Once you have settled on your food niche, you can put together a business plan and make sure you register your business with the appropriate people. Having a website people can order from will make life simpler and advertising on social media will help spread the word.


What Foods Can I Sell From Home?

As long as you have all your i’s dotted and your T’s crossed then the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing which foods to sell from your home kitchen.

If you are dealing with raw meats such as making pies then you may be subject to additional licensing, so it’s important to check this.

Below are some ideas for food you can easily sell from your home.

  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Ice cream
  • Afternoon teas
  • Sweets
  • Sandwiches
  • Party or wedding food
  • Coffee or tea blends
  • Party bags
  • Bread
  • Jam
  • Honey
  • Desserts
  • Pizzas
  • Curries
  • Burgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Chocolate bouquets
  • Vegan food

Using Delivery Services Such as Uber Eats

When you set up your food business from home it’s important to consider how you plan to deliver orders. It may be manageable to deliver food yourself initially but as you grow, you may find it becomes logistically difficult to undertake all the deliveries on your own.

This is where delivery services such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and Just Eat can prove to be an advantage. You can use these to service your home business on the same terms as any other takeaway in town.

Signing up for any of these comes at a cost so it’s important to do your research first and see which will work best for you. There are less well known apps to choose from too which may prove cheaper.

Further Reading

If you decide a home based business won’t work, our guides on starting mobile food businesses might be of interest.


FAQs

Is it legal to sell food from home?

It is perfectly legal to sell food from home providing you have taken all the necessary steps such as registering with environmental health and HMRC. Selling food from home without taking out the necessary training or paperwork will result in a heavy fine.

Can you sell cooked food from home?

You can sell cooked food from your own home as long as you have informed the relevant people and have your kitchen ready for inspection. You should enrol in a food hygiene course to fully understand due diligence.

Can you sell food online from home?

It is common practice in this modern era to offer an online service for eateries and this can extend to a business run from home too. It can be a productive way of advertising as well but it’s important to register as a food business 28 days before opening.

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