A large part of this activity is unregulated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) yet the situation is totally legal. There are 5 main problems with this:
1. All food businesses are required by law to register with the local authority – but small scale operations are exempt so long as the supply of food is “occasional”, which is not defined in the law so any home-based food business can claim exemption. As a consequence many of these food businesses (for that is what they are, registered or not) operate outside the regulatory system with impunity.
2. If the local authority decides to inspect a food business (registered or unregistered) it has to give 24 hours notice if the business is operating from a private home. This of course eliminates the element of surprise and renders the inspection valueless.
3. Hygiene training is not a legal requirement for any food business. If there is no legal requirement to have hygiene training then those selling food from home on a casual basis are unlikely to have any training at all.
4. The FSA recommends that consumers check the food hygiene rating of a food business before placing an order and to only order if the rating is 3 or above. But there is no obligation for any food business to be rated at all. If even registered businesses can trade without a food safety rating then the public will be unguarded with businesses that are unregistered which are not rated.
5. Registered food businesses are required by law to disclose allergens in their food. Unregistered food businesses are not.
The law needs to change urgently to protect the public.