Support and guidance for home catering businesses

Anyone starting a new food business must register with Ealing Council at least 28 days before opening. Registration is free of charge and cannot be refused. Re-registration is also necessary where a change of ownership has taken place.

It is advised that businesses meet the following requirements to ensure that food is safely produced to reduce the risk to public health. Please be aware that these are just a few of the key parts that detail the required structural legislation compliances for all food businesses. This is, however, not a complete list of what is required to comply with the law, and the responsible person in charge of the food business should conduct further research.

Structure, layout and ventilation

Domestic kitchens are not usually designed for commercial use, so may require some alteration to comply with food safety laws. The standards you will have to meet depend upon several factors, such as the type and quantity of food you intend to prepare, and what else the kitchen is used for. Some of the key aspects of food safety/hygiene regulations you will need to consider are listed below:

  • There should be a suitable wash hand basin, and ideally, one that can be used exclusively for washing hands. For example, if a sink has two separate sections, then one section can be used to wash hands. Alternatively, a downstairs WC or sink in a utility area could also be used.
  • Any toilets within the property must not open directly into the kitchen area.
  • An adequate supply of hot water must be available for handwashing and washing equipment.
  • Bare wood finishes that are not easy to clean, so may need to be replaced with surfaces that are smooth, easy to clean, and wipeable. Food contact surfaces (worktops, chopping boards, etc) must also be in a sound condition and be easy to clean and disinfect. Wooden chopping boards are not recommended as they cannot be effectively disinfected.
  • There should be enough storage or refrigeration space for large volumes of food, and it is important to keep food for the business separated from food for domestic use
  • You should ensure there is adequate ventilation to prevent condensation, mould growth, and prevent grease build up so that food safety is not compromised.
  • You should ensure you have adequate lighting and drainage.
  • You need to ensure that domestic use of the kitchen ie by children, pets, or other people, is separate from business use. Also, you will need to make sure other domestic activities (such as laundry) do not compromise food safety. Although this can be awkward, it is essential for good food hygiene.
  • You should ensure there is sufficient space and worktops to prevent any risk of cross-contamination.
  • All equipment used in the preparation of food must be in good condition, be easy to clean, and where necessary, disinfect.
  • It is recommended to use a dishwasher if one is available, and all cleaning should be conducted using the two-stage cleaning method. The first step is to clean the surfaces with hot soapy water to remove food debris and grime, followed by a disinfectant application. We recommend that the disinfectant products you use meet BS EN 1276:2019 or BS EN 13697:2001 standards.

Pests and pets

The layout and design of the kitchen should inhibit the entry of pests into the premises and should aid in pest control. The premises should always be kept free from any pests. You should also follow good practices in pest control such as always keeping the premises clean and free of food debris, pest-proofing all potential entry points, and conducting regular monitoring for evidence of pest activity.

You must also keep any family pets, pet food, or litter trays out of the kitchen during commercial catering times as they harbour bacteria and are a potential for hair and other contamination. If pets have been allowed in the kitchen, you must clean and disinfect all areas of the kitchen before preparing any food.

Waste disposal (including oil)

You must ensure that there are adequate facilities for the storage and disposal of solid and liquid waste. Food waste must not be allowed to accumulate in the food preparation area. If commercial food preparation creates a significant amount of waste, arrangements should be made to have it removed more frequently than normal domestic refuse collections.

Waste fats, oil, and grease (FOG) can cause significant and costly problems in commercial premises if not disposed of responsibly. It is a legal requirement to comply with the law around good waste management as poor waste disposal can block drains and impact the local community, your business, and your customers.

By not complying with the correct disposal of FOG waste, you can face fines or prosecution under The Water Industry Act 1991 and will have to compensate Thames Water if they’ve had to clear a blockage caused by poor waste management. To prevent such occurrences, there are several ways to carry out good waste management methods, for example, collecting your FOG waste and storing it in a tight-lidded container for collection by a licensed waste contractor or hiring a specialist to install grease separators and removal units.

Please see the Thames Water website for further guidance.

Food safety management systems (HACCP/SFBB) - When is it needed for a home caterer?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) or Safer Food for Better Business (SFBB) are food safety management systems that businesses must have in place. The law requires that you put in place a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP in proportion to the size and nature of your business. In addition to being a legal requirement, it is also a helpful tool to ensure safe practices are followed within your business.

If your products contain high-risk foods, for example, meats, fresh cream, cheese, or eggs, then you will need to have a documented food safety management system in place to show how you manage food safety hazards within your business. You must write these procedures down, update them as necessary and retain them so they can be checked by our department during a food hygiene inspection. You must also:

  • Keep them in place permanently.
  • Keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures.
  • Review your procedures if you change what you produce or how you work.
  • If using specialist equipment within the business such as a vacuum packing machine, ensure that you carry out a risk assessment and record your findings.

The Food Standards Agency has developed a food safety management system called safer food, better business for caterers/restaurants to help you keep a record of what you do to make sure the food you produce is safe to eat. This document provides key information on food hygiene and has a diary section for simple record-keeping. There are many other free food safety management systems that can be used, depending on preference or you can produce your own. Guidance is also available for creating your own HACCP procedures.

For some lower-risk businesses such as businesses that sell health products, vitamins, supplements, nuts, dried fruits, sweets, or confectionary, then ensuring good hygienic practices (pre-requisites) are in place is sufficient, and a documented food safety management system will not be required.


Food business operators must ensure that food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters suitable to their work activity. This is a legal requirement stipulated in Retained EU Regulation: 852/2004 Annex II Chapter XII. Therefore, staff may need to attend a food hygiene training course. It is recommended that food handlers should be trained to a level that is appropriate to the type of food being prepared. See information on training courses or feel free to carry out your own internet research. The business should ensure they use a competent provider for food safety training. 

If food handlers do not have any formal training, then they must receive adequate instruction and/or supervision.