Health & safety and food hygiene should be priorities for any cake baking business. New food hygiene regulations were brought in on 1 January 2006 in the UK. The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 require that, under EU legislation, the majority of food businesses register their premises with their local authority. These regulations apply to, amongst others, caterers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Your cake baking business is certain to be affected. Read up on the details to ensure your baking venture keeps within the bounds of the law.
Risk Assessments, Checks and Documentation
The biggest change brought about by the new legislation is the requirement of a documented Food Safety Management system based on the principles of ‘HACCP’. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. So what does that mean exactly? A process of food safety management recognised worldwide, it requires that business owners pinpoint and document factors that could make their food a risk to customers. With the potential hazards in mind, business owners must write down and keep on file a list of the consequent measures you must take for food safety. In carrying out these measures, you need to keep a written note of any checks made. This written procedure is a legal requirement.
Safer Food Better Business
To give small businesses a helping hand, a ‘Safer Food Better Business’ pack is available from the Food Standards Agency. This resource has been designed specifically to help small businesses comply with the new food hygiene regulations. The pack contains a list of ‘Safe Methods’ for food hygiene. All you need to do is tick those that apply to your business. It also includes a diary in which you can document the results of hygiene and safety checks and detail any problems and how they were tackled.
As a small business owner, you are also legally obliged to carry out a more general risk assessment of your work premises and keep records of that assessment. You should record any hazards that arise and detail how you mitigate them. Remember that you are liable to being inspected by a health and safety executive and that they may ask to see the records of your risk assessment.
More on Food Hygiene Regulations and Requirements
As a food related business, you are liable to being visited by the Food Standards Agency. In addition, you will undergo a compulsory inspection by an environmental health officer from your local authority. Be aware that they can visit you randomly, without warning.
An environmental health officer will want to see evidence of the measures you have taken in terms of food hygiene training. Any employees who handle food produced by your cake baking business will need to have a Food Hygiene Certificate to prove their knowledge and command of basic food hygiene. This applies to kitchen, cooking and baking staff but not to waiting staff. Individuals must pass a test to attain this certificate, as proof that they can safely work with food and have received the appropriate training. Various independent companies offer online training and testing for the Food Hygiene Certificate. This usually costs in the region of £25. Offline, local colleges also offer training programmes and testing facilities.
Depending on your local authority, you may be required to participate in the Scores on the Doors scheme. This is a UK-wide public information service which publishes the local authority hygiene ratings for food businesses. Get in touch with your local council to find out whether your business will need to be included in the scheme.
Food Allergen Labelling
As a cake baker, you are likely to cook with a number of ingredients that some individuals may be allergic to. Nuts, for example, can induce a dangerous reaction in some allergy sufferers. Labelling rules in European Directives 2003/89/EC and 2006/142/EC ensure that consumers have access to full ingredient information for products, helping them to avoid foods that could prove dangerous to their personal health. These rules for pre-packaged foods highlight 14 food allergens that, if used as an ingredient, must be clearly indicated on food packaging. The list includes cereals containing gluten, eggs, peanuts, nuts, milk and sesame, all of which are frequently used in cake baking.
These rules do not apply to unpackaged foods but it is important to clearly indicate to customers which of your products contain nuts or other allergens. Signs and labels will help here. It is also recommended that all staff keep a full list of product ingredients at hand in order to assist customers with their particular dietary needs.
Foods manufactured in an environment in which nuts could have accidentally entered the production process do not have to be labelled with a ‘may contain nuts’ message but, if in any doubt, it is advisable.
Take action and ensure that your business complies with all the regulations outlined above in order to protect your customers, your employees and your business.