Preserve selling - Environmental health requirements
Selling Preserves and Environmental Health
Although you are allowed to give your own family food poisoning (!), as soon as you want to sell your
home made preserves to members of the public you have to be registered with your local council
environmental health department. This is in compliance with regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Article 6(2).
There is no fee to register and most environmental health departments are very helpful and will answer
your questions. This is the case even if you only intend to sell a few jars at your local fete.
You need to register at least 28 days before you first intend to sell any food to the public. Once you
have registered, a member of the department will arrange to visit you in order to inspect your kitchen
but you do not need to have the inspection before you start to sell.
All of this may seem a bit over the top and maybe a little daunting. However, it is worth remembering
that most of the time you are a member of the public and I suspect grateful that such measures are in
place to protect you when you buy food. Secondly, bear in mind that health inspectors are not out to get
you and have no desire to shut you down. They are aiming for the same thing that you are; that is, that
your customers are sold food that is free from food poisoning microbes or foreign bodies. Finally, all
the requirements to pass a food safety inspection are clearly laid out and the information is readily
available. Making preserves is considered to be a low risk operation because it does not involve
potentially dangerous foods such as raw meat, food that is kept warm or food that needs to be
refrigerated. Because of this, you will be a low priority to the food safety department and it could be
several months before an inspection is arranged. On the day of the inspection the food inspector will be
interested in the cleanliness of your kitchen and your written procedures.
Your environmental health department should provide you with an information pack that clearly lays
out all the areas that you need to consider when preparing food. Mostly this is common sense and its
purpose is to identify areas where a problem may occur in order to prevent it from happening. It deals
with issues such as personal hygiene (such as hand washing and protective clothing) and clean working
areas. With preserve making being low risk, your procedures will be very straightforward. You need to
show an understanding of the need for appropriate clothing such as apron and a hat, having long hair
tied back and removing watches and jewellery. You need to have some sort of cleaning procedure
which usually amounts to making sure your kitchen is clean and tidy before you start preparing food
and tidying up after yourself when you are finished.
When an inspector comes they will be looking for the following things. Clean and well maintained
premises, clean work surfaces, appropriate cleaning materials, no pests, appropriate storage of food and
suitable protective clothing. The floor needs to be clean and has to be made of an impervious material,
so carpet in the kitchen is not acceptable. Walls and ceiling must be undamaged. They also do not want
to see laundry in the food preparation part of the kitchen or any evidence of pets entering the food
preparation area. Other things are basic hygiene that you would wish for your domestic kitchen anyway
such as having clean utensils and equipment, a water supply, a sink and rubbish being kept away from
the food preparation areas.
If the health inspector is unhappy about anything he sees or does not see then he will talk to you about
it and expect you to put it right and you can ask questions to clarify anything you are unsure of. The
main thing that you need to keep in mind is that you need to show “due diligence”. That is, you need to
demonstrate that you make every effort to avoid contaminating your food with microbes or foreign
bodies. Let’s face it, selling unfit food is the last thing anyone would want to do