From latin american dishes in plastic Tupperware tubs, to multi-coloured donuts and vegan tiffin boxes, the Facebook marketplace seems to have turned into the social media platform’s very own world food buffet. There are dishes seemingly from every cuisine, some mouth-watering and others you’d probably want to follow up with a mouthful of water.

Entrepreneurial cooks across Britain are seeing the shop feature on the platform as a money-making opportunity, bringing their kitchen creations to the masses of Facebook. As with anything on Facebook’s marketplace, there are some good and bad, depending what you buy. But unlike going to a restaurant, or ordering from a take-away, many of these food businesses, which is what they are if they’re selling food to the public, aren’t following the same laws as more traditional operations.

It’s something the Food Standards Agency brought attention to this week when they said Facebook should take responsibility for people using the platform to sell food. Many sellers are not registered with their local council nor will they have been inspected and the FSA warned this was putting people at serious risk from Listeria, the food borne illness.

If you own a home food business, you need to register via the FSA website and apply for your licence. Once you have registered you may be inspected by your local authority and of course you’ll want to be as prepared as possible to make sure you get that 5 top score in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

It’s important to know your premises will need to be approved by your local council if you prepare or handle food which comes from animals for supply to other business – so have it in your mind that the Environmental Health Officer may need to visit your home.

Preparing for an EHO visit

The best way to pass their visit is to know what they’re looking for. Which is:

  • Personal hygiene – everyone involved needs to follow correct hand-washing procedures and wear appropriate protective attire
  • Food labelling – valid product menu and product descriptions, health claims and allergen information
  • Equipment – proper maintenance including clean appliances, fridge door handles, light switches etc
  • Pest control – effective methods need to be utilised and staff need to know how to identify and report on common pests
  • Preventative methods for contamination (physical, chemical, allergenic and microbial)
  • Cleaning practices and scheduling – how you manage hazardous chemicals, use colour-coded equipment and cleaning schedules
  • Temperature control – having correct temperature when storing, cooking, cooling, freezing and displaying your food
  • Your premise’s condition – thinking about layout, design, construction and how clean it is and how big both temporary and permanent food preperation areas are
  • Food safety management system – your business needs to have an appropriate and documented system in place like HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) and be following it correctly. This includes staff being trained in all food safety practices

What happens if you fail an inspection? 

If you do not pass the EHO visit they will:

  • Issue verbal or written good food hygiene practice if they think the business can improve
  • Tell you how to comply with the law and which ones it’s breaking
  • Take samples and photographs for lab analysis
  • Seize or detain any foods they don’t think are fit for consumption
  • Inspect your records including HACCP, training records, cleaning schedules, allergen information etc
  • Stop you from carrying out certain activities
  • Use a court order to stop you from doing certain activities and probably shut down your business
  • Recommend prosecution when food safety law has been seriously breached

Being HACCP compliant is a massive part of passing your EHO visit and OpsBase helps with an easy-to-use checklist function, designed to make it simple to keep track of your food safety procedures. Read about how that works in practice here.

Daily task management, issue resolution and team communications, all from one platform.

OpsBase software is designed for busy restaurants bars, hotels and retailers. Manage your day-to-day operations on the move, report any issues with the click of a button, and communicate with your whole team, across multiple sites, all from one easy to set-up, simple to use app.

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