With a tightening economy, hundreds of home cooks are taking to selling food, that they have prepared at home, to consumers to make ends meet. These 'services' are offered through ads and social media.
The risks to these entrepreneurs and to the public are huge. There are the obvious possible health implications - from unsanitary kitchens to unsafe food handling. These home-cooks don't answer to anyone - and many haven't had any food safety or culinary training. How can a client know in what conditions their food is being prepared? Are there pets accessing the kitchen? Is it clean? Has there been any cross-contamination?
In addition, there are a wide range of financial risks. Most regions have strict laws about where food for sale can be prepared. Typically, food must be prepared in a commercial kitchen which has been passed by the local health department. Fines could be in the thousands of dollars for home-cooks flaunting these laws.
The alternative is to have the home kitchen renovated to adhere to local laws, to get the proper food-safe training, licenses etc. - costing thousands of dollars. The facility would also have to be inspected regularly by health inspectors. But at least the clients know that the home-cook has a vested interest in the business of preparing food and has taken their health seriously.
Home insurance is another factor. Most home insurance policies would not cover claims for a home-based food production business. This means that should there be a fire, a flood or other claims for damage etc. as a result of home-cooks preparing food at home for commercial purposes, the home-cooks may be personally liable for all the damage and/or claims. These costs could be in the thousands - or in the millions - of dollars, depending on the amount of damage, if anyone was hurt or if a client became ill etc.
Then there is the transportation of the cooked foods to the client. Prepared food should be transported in a manner that does not affect the quality and viability of the food. Refrigerated trucks are expensive, but will keep prepared foods in a food-safe manner while it is being transported to a client's home.
The alternative is to risk transporting prepared foods in the back of your car. Again, car insurance may not cover the transportation of food for business purposes - so, should your client fall ill after consuming food transported in this manner, your insurance would likely not cover the claim, leaving you personally responsible for all of the costs.
Before launching a business model that goes against local bylaws, health & safety laws, home and car insurance, think about the consequences. It may be easier - and cheaper in the long-run - to rent a commercial kitchen for a few hours each week.
Chef Insurance offers cooks, Personal Chefs, Private Chefs, small caterers, artisan bakers and small, artisan food producers with liability coverage for food prepared in a commercial kitchen setting or in the client's home.
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BACKGROUND: The Chef Alliance is a membership organisation for Personal Chefs, Private Chefs, Chefs and Caterers, Artisan and Cottage Industry food producers and bakers, Home Cooks, Culinary Instructors, Food Stylists, Chef Instructors and other foodservice professionals across Canada. We support our members in growing strong, successful businesses, through mentorship, peer support, marketing, business savings and liability insurance. We have member Chefs in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, Montreal, Quebec City, Vaughan, Markham, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, Richmond, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Halifax... and many other towns and cities in Canada.
DISCLAIMER: INFORMATION PROVIDED MAY BE INCOMPLETE. THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL, LEGAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE. EACH BUSINESS SITUATION IS UNIQUE AND THE ADVICE PROVIDED IS INTENDED TO BE GENERAL. PLEASE CONTACT A LEGAL OR FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL FOR ADVICE THAT IS BEST SUITED FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR LOCAL/REGIONAL GOVERNMENT LAWS AND BY-LAWS.