Hey Lifehacker, I would like to start baking from home and selling to people (probably at markets and/or on a made-to-order type basis). What regulations should I be worried about? Obviously restaurants and bakeries have strict health codes that they have to follow, but do those apply in my work-from-home case? Am I just overthinking about the situation and should just get stuck into baking delicious treats? Thanks, Half-Baked
Baking picture from Shutterstock
We'd advise against selling homemade food without a licence: all it takes is a single case of food poisoning or an overzealous health inspector to land you in hot water.
The first step is to apply for a business licence from your local council. Regulations and pricing can vary depending on where you live, but it's generally not too vigorous or expensive. As long as you're not dealing with high-risk foods, your council will almost certainly approve the operation.
There are also different licence classifications that determine what you can cook and where. Your kitchen, storerooms and flooring all need to meet certain standards and hand-washing facilities must be within easy reach of your cooking area. If your food is packaged, state labelling laws also apply.
The following websites provide a comprehensive overview of the rules in each state and territory:
- NSW Food Authority: Home-based food businesses
- Victoria Health Department: Starting a food business
- Queensland Health Department: Food Safety
- ACT Health: Starting a Food Business in the ACT
- SA Health: Starting A Food Business
- WA Department Of Health: Thinking of starting a new food business?
- NT Department Of Health: Food Safety
- Tasmania Department of Health: Food Safety for Businesses and Community Organisations
While this might seem like a lot of effort to sell a few cookies, it's important that all commercially sold foods follow the same business procedures. It's what keeps us all safe and healthy (for the most part, anyway).
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