The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has urged businesses to register with their local councils following an increase in new businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Data shows that 37% of the 92,540 new businesses registered since March 2020 are run from home kitchens at private addresses, according to the digital service Register a Food Business (RAFB).
During COVID-19, there has been an increase in door-to-door and internet-marketed foods. Exeter City Council said it has seen an increase in the number of home caterers, bakers and pastry chefs.
“Some of these activities might start out as hobbies, social media advertising, but before long they meet the definition of a food business and require registration with the environmental health team,” said said a council spokesperson.
Possible risk for customers
Many door-to-door sellers do not consider themselves a food business, have not registered with their local authority and could put consumers at risk due to gaps in food safety or knowledge about allergens, according to the FSA . Failure to register may result in prosecution.
Michael Jackson, deputy director and head of regulatory compliance at the FSA, said local authorities need to know the businesses trading in their area to provide them with help and support to achieve the correct hygiene standards and food safety in order to protect consumers as soon as they are opened.
“If you cook, store, prepare, sell or distribute a food product, you are a food business and you must register immediately. Our advice is clear, if you are considering starting a new food business or taking over an existing food business, you must register with your local authority,” he said.
The type of food produced is varied. For those operating from home or domestic premises, this can vary from pastry chefs to those producing hot meals.
All food businesses have a legal obligation to register with their local authority 28 days before opening. They have to, whether they’re selling food through social media like Facebook Marketplace or Instagram Store, through e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay, whether they’re doing business from a physical location or that they run operations from a home kitchen.
Registration is free and means that the local authorities will be informed of the operation and can carry out a food hygiene inspection. Officials can also advise on how to improve food hygiene and safety practices.
In Ireland, investigations were carried out at 47 unregistered food businesses in 2020, up from 19 in 2019, and resulted in 17 tonnes of unsafe or unsafe food being withdrawn from the market.
Wider Image and Related Works
Jim Andrews, the cabinet’s spokesman for public health in Barnsley, said there had been an increase in the number of people selling food from doorsteps throughout the pandemic.
“That’s why we’re working with the FSA to help Barnsley businesses ensure they register and keep us informed of changes to their businesses. Registration is free and cannot be refused. If you are already trading and you are not registered, you should register as soon as possible as it is a legal requirement,” he said.
Asked what the agency is doing to catch those who deliberately don’t register, an FSA spokeswoman said: ‘As part of our Achieving Business Compliance program, we are currently collecting data to better understand the types and extent of risks to consumers of buying food online. to inform our next steps.
“We undertake research to help quantify and understand the risks associated with unregistered businesses, as well as research into online sales routes and consumer behavior. These results will help us identify which consumer or business interventions will have the greatest impact on the assurance of food sold online.
“This campaign will use a variety of channels, including targeted content delivered on podcasts, promoted ads on Facebook and Instagram Marketplace, and online advertising through Google Search. This is our first time using Marketplace advertising – the reason being that we hope to reach and engage some of those who can sell through this channel and are not registered. We will evaluate the performance of each of the channels and the impact this has on web traffic and ultimately registrations during the campaign period.
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