This is a question that puzzled me for quite a while before starting my street food project.
Where I’m going to prepare the food? I mean where I can legaly prepare my food as you require the evidence of that.
It might be essential for a street fooder to have a preparation kitchen. Sure, some street fooders cook everything on he spot, especially if they have a well equipped van but there are also many of us that need to work out preparations before getting to the street and there are actually few solutions depending on the needs.
In London you can find some commercial kitchen for hire but I think it can be good choice for a short term as these kitchen are usually quite expensive or they could be located far from where you are based so you will end up wasting a lot of time just reaching the kitchen and enjoying the London traffic
Good opportunities to find working spaces are provided by the many pups, restaurants or other catering companies, that sometimes hire their kitchens too. It’s then important that when you find a pub or other commercial kitchen you make sure, that they comply with the Health & Safety requirements, as you’ll need lately to register you company with the local authority and Health & Safety that will come to inspect the premises as long they don’t have already prove of good standard of health & safety practise.
A different solution for a street food start up is to register your private home as a food business premises.
Let’s say that being in UK helps a lot as here you can actually legally register your home kitchen as “home commercial kitchen”, where in Italy for example that would be impossible.
If you want to register you kitchen with your local authority and the health and environment authority, the first step is to get on contact with them and ask for information. This is a way to present your self and your food business projetc to your concil.
“The law requires food businesses to register their premises with the local authority. This should be done at least 28 days prior to opening. Registration is a very simple process and the registration form should only take a few minutes to complete. There is no charge to register premises and registration does not need to be renewed periodically. Local authorities cannot refuse to register premises.” as stated by the Greenwich council in theri web page and you have to register in any case either you are using a van or a mobie kitchen.
So the registration cannot be refused but you still need to get your home kitchen approved by your local Food Hygiene, Food Standards and Health & Safety office. so after appyling for the food premises registration you need to set an appointment with the Health & Safety office to inspect your home. It’s important that before you get the inspection you obtain a Level 2 award in Food Safety for Catering, that you can easily gain with an on line course. The Health & Safety office asks this certificate and it is generally required when you apply for food trading in markets and events, so you have to have one soon or later.
My kitchen will be eligible and it will pass the inspection of the Health & Safety officer?
Well generally the Health & Safety officer want to make sure that you are aware of what you are doing and that you understand all the risks involved in your food preparation. This can be proved providing a H.A.C.C.P. plan.
Other thing to consider is the kitchen condition. Of course the preparation area has to be tidy and depending on what type of food you are producing is more or less important to have a separate fridge to keep separate the food for home consumption from the one you sell on the street. I actually consider quite essential to have a separate fridge. There are also more things/rules that you need to consider when you set up your home kitchen as work space for food production and generally you attend the Food Safety for Catering course you will be able to get the understanding on how to set a proper and safe food preparation enviroment.
What to expect during the Health & Safety office visit?
During the visit you’ll be questioned about what you do and how you will use the kitchen. You’ll might be asked to give details about each step of the food preparation starting from sourcing the ingredients, delivery, preparation, food temperature, whashing up, cleaning and so on. The fact is that you have to prove that you know what your are doing, providing evidence of it. If there are things that are wrong the Health & Safety office will advice you on how to manage them and they might require a second visit to check if you did follow their suggestions.
Here few usefull links
Safer food better business ‘Working with food? What you need to know before you start’
Running a Small Food Business from Home pdf with general guide lines
If you have anything to add or if you thing that some information reported are misleading or incomplete, please come back to me and I will take good consideration of sugestion and advice.