Food Safety Tips for Your Home Bakery
Has baking always been your passion? Or maybe pandemic lockdowns led you to buy pastry brushes online, and a new hobby slowly became a viable business. But did you know that food safety regulations require specific handling and sanitization measures are met?
In most provinces, bakers, and makers of low-risk foods, like baked goods, bread, and preserves, can prepare food at home and sell it to the public without a special license. And while some provinces like BC highly recommend vendors complete an introductory food safety course, formal training or designated preparation areas are not required.
For higher-risk foods, like items that contain meat, poultry, or dairy, a license, food-safe course, health, and safety plan, and inspection will be required. You may even be asked to rent space in a commercial kitchen or have a dedicated secondary preparation space in your home.
However, you are liable for the food you prepare and sell in both cases. To help ensure that your home-based bakery gets off on the right foot, here are a few tips on keeping your workspace clean, contaminant-free, and churning out tasty treats.
Preparing Lower Risk Foods at Home
Whether you sell your goods at a local farmer's market or directly to the consumer, you must follow the correct food preparation standards. Here is a breakdown of how you can prevent food safety issues.
Practicing Professional Personal Hygiene
Good hygiene practices are always important when handling food, but they are especially essential when preparing food for others to consume. Here are your kitchen working dos and don'ts:
- Always keep hair tied back or in a cap
- Thoroughly wash hands with warm to hot water for 20 seconds before starting any work in the kitchen. Dry with a paper towel.
- Wash hands when switching tasks, after touching garbage, or taking care of the dirty dishes
- Avoid coughing while working; if you can't, make sure to move away from the prep area, cover your nose and mouth, and rewash your hands before returning
- Avoid cooking while you are ill or if other people in the home are sick
- Keep open wounds covered at all times. If you have a bandage on your hands, consider using kitchen gloves
- Avoiding touching your face, hair, or PHONE. If you have to, wash your hand immediately after
- Wear clean clothes and a fresh apron in the kitchen
Sanitize All Surfaces and Equipment
Best practices say you should sanitize your tools and workspace before and after each use. This includes but is not limited to:
Make sure you use cleaners according to the label instructions and never spray anything around food or the supplies you will be using.
Ingredients and Food Safety
What goes into your food has a significant impact on food safety and taste; make sure to always buy fresh ingredients from a grocery store you trust. Invest in airtight containers for items like sugar and flour that you may buy in bulk.
To keep food safe:
- To avoid cross-contamination, limit your activities to one task at a time; don't cook your dinner at the same time you're preparing a batch of cupcakes to sell
- Be conscious of what ingredients you are using. Even if provincial regulations don't require your food to be labeled, you should be able to tell customers exactly what is and isn't in your products, especially common allergens like gluten, soy, peanuts, and eggs
- Individually wrap items or store them in a container to avoid contamination
- Date your items or be mindful of expiration dates (cookies, for example, will stay fresh much longer than bread or muffins)
No matter how big or small your operation, food safety is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. Help ensure you meet strict safety standards by equipping yourself with the right tools and knowledge.