The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has expressed concern at the growing number of home based food business that have sprung up during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Often selling through social media and other informal networks and apps, many are not registering as food businesses, meaning local authorities cannot check hygiene and food standards.
New figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and data from an online registration system used by nearly 200 local authorities, show that around 44% of food businesses started since the first lockdown are home-based.
CIEH says uninspected food businesses can be a real risk to public health and cause complications for local authorities at a time of national crisis.
“It’s not just about catering, it’s about how food is packed, labelled, and transported. It is considering the whole of the food chain. Adding uninspected food outlets to this network poses real risks.”
Julie Barratt, CIEH President, said: “Covid isn’t the only thing that kills people, so does food poisoning and so do allergens.
“Many of these new food businesses are small producers with limited reach. They won’t cause big outbreaks of food poisoning, but there is every chance that they are making people ill. Just because people may not be reporting food-related illness to their GPs due to the pandemic does not mean it isn’t happening.
“It’s not just about catering, it’s about how food is packed, labelled, and transported. It is considering the whole of the food chain. Adding uninspected food outlets to this network poses real risks.
“However, we don’t want to discourage businesses, we want to work with them to get it right first time. The best way for that to happen is if new businesses register with their local authorities and talk to their environmental health teams before opening. That way they can open with confidence and peace of mind that they are supporting their local communities, not harming them.”