Eeeek! It’s a big question, and a contentious one at that. BUT, there are circumstances when you will need to register with your Local Authority, even if you have no intention of running a cake business.
The need to register with the Local Authority has always been a source of great debate amongst bakers and cake makers. However, this debate seems to have trebled since the Food Standards Agency (FSA) updated its guidance on the subject on August 2020. The update was due to the sheer amount of unregistered food businesses (not just cake businesses) springing up as a result of lockdown.
So, let’s go back to basics… food law requires the registration of activities where food is supplied on a “regular & organised” basis. It does not matter whether that food is sold, or given away for free. This means, that you MAY need to register with the local authority even if you do not consider yourself to be a business.
BUT, how do you know whether you need to register with the Local Authority if you do not intend to run a cake business?
Well, if you are receiving payment for your cakes, and operating as a business the answer is obvious – you need to register! What is not so obvious if you bake for friends and family for no payment, bake for charity events, or for your child’s school fair – do you need to register then?
Whilst the FSA guidance does give some scenarios where you will need to register, it is by no means exhaustive. Also, it helpfully does not give a definition of “regular and organised”. So I spoke with my Local Environmental Health Officer to ask her when she would expect a baker to register. She told me that if someone is baking cakes to be consumed outside of the home more than once a month then it is considered regular and she would expect the baker to register. She would not expect someone who bakes “on occasion” (less than once a month) to register.
So does this help to clarify the matter for you?
If you are still unsure whether you need to register, my advice is always to contact your local authority and ask their advice. You can find out which local authority you fall under here.
If you are reading this and thinking “oh crumbs I’m not registered and I should be” then, don’t panic, just do it now! It is free, easy, and best of all, can’t be refused!
Are you thinking you may not bother registering even though you know you should? My advice – don’t take that risk! You can be fined or imprisoned for up to 2 years, or both if you run a food business without registering.
Did you find this blog interesting? If so, you may also like this one…. Do you think you are above the law?
If you would like to read the guidance from the Food Standards Agency in full, you can do so here.