The Ontario government has announced it will be providing a guide on how to start home-based food businesses. The move is an attempt to offer a “how-to” for food entrepreneurs during such a difficult time for the industry.
According to a government release, the tool will include an overview of public health requirements that need to be followed as a food operator.
To further support these entrepreneurs, the government says it has also made regulatory changes to allow more flexibility to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods. These supports, it says, are part of the government’s continued efforts to help small, independent businesses succeed and contribute to Ontario communities during COVID-19.
“For many local entrepreneurs, they start with a love of food and a cherished family recipe, whether it’s grandma’s apple pie or that new take on homegrown pickles, jams and preserves, and try and turn their passion into a successful business,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.
“Our government applauds them for their vision and effort and we are doing everything we can to help them seize new opportunities without compromising Ontario’s high standards for food safety.”
Low-risk foods are considered non-hazardous and do not require refrigeration. They include items such as baked goods, pickles, jams and preserves, chocolates, hard candies and brittles, fudge and toffees, granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds, and coffee beans and tea leaves.
“Starting a home-based food business is an excellent opportunity for people across Ontario to share their culinary creativity, build a business for themselves and be part of the province’s agri-food sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Our government is committed to encouraging this growing part of the economy and to support all the good things that are grown and produced right here in Ontario.”
All food premises, including home-based food businesses, must adhere to requirements under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) and the Food Premises Regulation, as well as periodic inspections by their local public health unit.
Home-based food businesses that prepare only low-risk foods are exempt from certain regulatory requirements, such as specified handwashing stations in food premises, compliance with commercial dishwashing requirements and food handling training certification.