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Thinking about starting your own baking business in the UK ?   I didn’t really know what I had to do and the importance of being registered until I researched the in’s and out’s of starting up my own company so I have decided to pop my process down to share – its surprisingly easy and is worth its weight in gold.

When you start off baking for friends and family that’s all well and good as you gain experience and “practise” for want of a better word on people who’s opinion you trust and respect . You can practise techniques and recipes on them and if you mess up a little it really doesn’t matter as you are not charging them.  But when they suggest to their friends to order a cake from you then that is a very “different batch of cupcakes!”

The normal line you may hear is “oh I’m a hobby baker so I only charge for ingredients”. So a client orders from that person as it’s so much cheaper than the other quote they had from a registered baker.

Let’s pretend and make up a scenario – The cake arrives and looks beautiful and tastes great… and the buyer thinks “Wow I had a right result there I only paid them for the ingredients and its a bargain”. A few days later the “hobby baker” gets a phone call from the friend who recommended them to say that eight of the party girls friends have sickness and diarrhoea now the only thing the host can think of that was eaten by all the kids was the cake.   Now what do you do ?  You can argue and say “well there was a buffet and it could have been that food?  – The host replies that they were purchased from a registered catering company and hold hygiene certification and they have checked their HACCP records and they have been ruled out- Then you suggest that perhaps it was the icecream stand that they ordered in the garden – again the answer is well “No we checked on their hygiene certificates and also the HACCP records and their cleaning schedule they have been ruled out … so can we check your records and your certification as one of the kids is so poorly that they are in hospital on a saline drip with suspected food poisoning so if I can just check your records we can rule you out too” The hobby baker now has to tell them that “oh I’m sorry I’m only a hobby baker – I only charge for ingredients so I’m not registered with the local council and  I do not have any hygiene records for you to see, I haven’t got any certification to show you and a HACCP ??? what is that ?”    The “hobby baker” gets taken to court for malpractice and sued for damages and doesn’t have a leg to stand on as she cannot prove that her ingredients were all in date and that her eggs were fresh and that the environment in which she bakes is immaculate.

OK so that was a made up scenario but how close to the truth could that be?

Do you know what a HACCP is ? Do you have certification ? Do you hold cleaning records? Are you registered with your local council and hold a hygiene certificate from your Environmental Health Officer ?

So this is how to do it legal beagle and cover your proverbial derrière and to cover yourself for any eventuality. Bear in mind every council has their own rulings but this is what I did.

First thing you need to do is find the telephone number of your local council and ask to speak to the  the Environmental Health Department  – don’t be scared they are there to help. If you simply say to them “I am thinking of starting up a baking business from home – what do I need to do” they will tell you step by step.

Now because I always run before I walk I decided to do research before I even called them and did an on-line HACCP course this stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. A HACCP is a food safety management system that is essential for all successful food businesses. I also did a Level 2 Food Hygiene & Safety Course as well as a food allergy online training course backed by the Foods Standards Agency .

Armed with this I took the plunge and called the Enviornmental Health Department in my local council.  They sent me through a booklet and also I collected a Foods Standard brochure from them . I then set up my kitchen in accordance to their regulations and arranged an inspection, they did ask if I would like them to come for a “pre inspection visit” to advise me on what I need to change or do prior to them coming in for an official inspection but after explaining that I have a separate area and oven dedicated only for my baking she didn’t think it was necessary.

On the day of the inspection it was just my luck to have a training health inspector being overseen by a fully qualified inspector arrive on the doorstep ! So they were double critically and thorough !!! Only me !  – But it was all good.  They asked to see my certificates, checked my fridge and made sure I had a thermometer in there to record the temperature.  I have a separate fridge dedicated to my baking area away from the house fridge.  They didn’t check my oven but I would suggest to make sure it sparkles 😉 I also have an oven thermometer. I have a range and one side is dedicated to baking the other is used for normal day to day family cooking. They asked where I sourced my ingredients most of my stock comes from the main supermarkets including my eggs – as a footnote if you buy freerange eggs direct from a farm and not a supermarket make sure you can lay a paper trail of the source.  The rest is from Makro again this can be traced so they are happy with that.  I volunteered to show them my tins and opened up cupboards to for them to see inside.  They asked a stream of questions to test my knowledge of health and safety and asked to see my cleaning schedule book .  She did confess that she was being strict as she was showing the trainee inspector the ropes – if anything it was really helpful for me as well as the trainee as most of the important bits were covered.  They could see I had a separate sink and cleaning area, checked my cleaning products were of british kitemark standards, gave me a quick quiz on which cloths I use and why … I was really honest and confessed that I hated cleaning cloths and only bought them for the inspection and told them I normally use hot soapy water and use the blue paper towels which I can throw away, then the dettol wipes to disinfect afterwards and leave to air dry.  She beamed and said that was more hygienic than the cloths !!! We then spent the next 10 minutes discussing what I planned to do , where I planned to distribute my cakes, how to transport them, she also saw I had an electric fly killer thing that my hubby had put up and she said it was set up more like a highstreet business than a home business and had no doubts that I would receive a 5* rating as she walked out she gave me her card and said if I had any questions she was only on the end of the phone and that unless I have a complaint that she would see me in a couple of years as I was low risk.  A few days later I got a letter confirming a 5* rating – chuffed to bits !

Next was to registered with HMRC – now I am useless with anything money related (just ask my husband!) If we could change currency to smiles and kisses the world would be a better place but I digress !   I just did the easy route and got an accountant for a minimal charge per year they sort everything out for you !

And finally was the public liability insurance £4 a month through Direct Line Insurance covers you for £1,000,000  – it may be worth contacting your car insurance company if you plan to use your car to transport deliveries.

Now I’m legal beagle and can bake and cake to my hearts content knowing that I can now advertise and network with confidence and that my clients have assurance that I am registered and insured.

Here are some links to help you get started and hope this helps xxx

http://www.food.gov.uk/

https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/working-for-yourself/what-you-need-to-do

http://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/business-insurance

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