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Starting up a catering business at home

You will need to register your catering business with Telford & Wrekin Council.

View information about how to register your catering business

Once you have registered with us you can start your business. It is your responsibility to comply with the law and provide safe food. If you are storing or preparing high risk foods such as buffets and hot meals then we will arrange an appointment to carry out an inspection shortly after you have registered.

If you are storing or preparing low risk foods then your inspection will not take priority and it may take several months before we make an appointment to inspect you.

Is your kitchen adequate for a catering business?

The kitchen must be designed, constructed so that it can be kept clean and maintained in good state of repair. Any surface that comes into contact with food must be in good condition and be easy to clean and disinfect.

A sink with hot and cold water must be provided to wash utensils and equipment.

If you have a dishwasher this will be acceptable. If the sink is to be used for food washing as well then it must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses.

Avoiding cross contamination

In a domestic catering kitchen there are likely to be greater quantities of both raw and cooked food than a normal domestic kitchen. More pots, pans, plates and utensils will be used. There will be more washing up and greater problems keeping worktops clean.

It is important to separate raw and ready-to-eat food at all times. If raw food is allowed to touch or drip onto ready-to-eat food, harmful bacteria can be transferred onto the ready-to-eat food.

Prepare raw and ready-to-eat food separately. Do not use the same knife or chopping board for raw meat/fish, ready-to-eat food and raw fruit/vegetables unless they are cleaned thoroughly between uses. All possible sources of contamination must be removed from the kitchen prior to it being used for food preparation. Possible sources of contamination include trinkets, paper clips, drawing pins and plants.

Keep people (including children) not involved in food preparation out of the kitchen during preparation time.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for information about E.coli cross-contamination guidance

Keep pets out of the kitchen

Normal routine activities such as washing clothes must not be carried at such times. No one must smoke in the kitchen and at any other time when handling food. If anyone in the house is suffering from an infectious disease (such as food poisoning or colds) please consult your Food Safety Officer immediately for advice.

View information about food poisoning

Hand washing

Hand washing is the single most important method of reducing the spread of infection. Hands must be washed frequently with warm water and soap. While preparing food, especially between handling raw and ready-to-eat foods, after using the toilet, after touching the dustbin and when they look dirty.

Domestic kitchens are not usually fitted with a separate wash hand basin, which is a major requirement of the law. Arrangements must therefore be made to enable food handlers to wash their hands. A wash hand basin in a downstairs bathroom will be acceptable.

Visit the National Archives website for information about hand washing

Enough cold storage space

Commercial food preparation at home means large quantities of cooked and uncooked food competing for limited amounts of fridge and freezer space. Inappropriate storage is one of the most common faults reported as contributing to food poisoning outbreaks.

High-risk food must be kept at or below 8ºC (recommend below 5ºC). It is recommended to keep commercial food in a separate fridge or freezer from your own food.

Cooking facilities

Domestic ovens may not have the capacity to handle the amounts of food that need to be cooked, particularly if large joints of meat and whole poultry are involved. Cooked food should reach a temperature of 75°C for 30 seconds therefore you will need a probe thermometer to help you check.

Transporting high-risk food

Once the food is prepared, getting it to where the customer is located can be a problem. It is extremely important when transporting food that it is protected from any risk of contamination and high risk food is maintained at a temperature that is less than 8°C. If you do not have a refrigerated vehicle you can use cool boxes, which must be cleaned and disinfected between use.

Safer food better business

All business that must have a documented food safety management system based on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), and be relevant to the type of business.

To help domestic caterers we have produced advice on how to prepare a suitable food safety management system.

Food hygiene training requirements - all food handlers, before starting work must have written or verbal instruction in the essentials of food hygiene. If you are handling 'high risk' foods it is recommended you attend a level two course.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for information about the food safety management pack

Other things you might need to consider

Business rates

You may have to pay increased rates if you use part of your property for a business. Contact the Business Rates team for advice on business rates for your business.


Just in case things go wrong, you are strongly advised to take out insurance to cover claims against you. You should consult your insurance broker about this.

Consideration must be given to acquiring commercial premises if it is your intention to expand your business. Lots of establishments have large fully functional kitchens that are not being used daily such as churches, village hall or sports clubs.

Remember if you can't do it safely don't do it at all!

Last updated: 05/10/2022 17:30

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