EHO home kitchen inspection: preparation guide & checklist

Updated: 4 days ago

Whether you’re running a bakery or a catering business from home, you’ll need to prepare for EHO home kitchen inspections.


EHO inspections determine your food hygiene rating, which can impact your home food business. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you are ready and that you have everything you need in terms of due diligence documentation.


We’ve put together this practical guide and checklists to help you prepare for an inspection:


What is an EHO home kitchen inspection?


Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is an EHO inspection and what does it involve?


As with any other food business, local authorities will visit your home to assess “if your business is complying with food law and producing food that is safe to eat”. During the inspection, local authorities will check:

  • The premises where you work

  • Your Food Safety Management System (FSMS)

  • How you work and your food operations (e.g. storing & cooking)

  • The type of food that you prepare and make

During an inspection, officers may take “samples, photographs and inspect records” as evidence. Their aim is to see if you have everything in place in terms of procedures, equipment, and documents to ensure that you are making and selling food that is safe to eat.


If local authorities deem your food hygiene standards to be unsatisfactory, they can take action. In serious cases, this can result in serving a formal legal notice or even prosecution.


How often do EHO visits take place?


The frequency of visits depends on how long your business has been running and on the potential risk your food business may present to public health.


Did you know? Local authorities may decide to visit your premises following a food safety complaint.


beautiful white kitchen to illustrate eho home kitchen inspection

Selling food from home: what do EHOs look at?


According to the FSA, local authorities will look at several aspects of food safety during an inspection, including:


  • Hygiene of food rooms and equipment: Covers the condition and cleanliness of the space and food-contact surfaces. It also comprises safe use and storage of cleaning products and cloths. You should be able to demonstrate to the EHO that you are cleaning as you go (e.g. wash or wipe away any spills as soon as they happen)

  • Food storage: How deliveries are handled and how food is stored (e.g. raw-to-eat and raw foods are stored separately). Consider food expiry dates and stock rotation as well as the condition of your freezers and fridges.

  • Food handling practices: How you cook, reheat, defrost and chill down food. Ensure that you use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Personal hygiene: Wash your hands regularly and wear appropriate protective clothing. Don’t wear watches or jewellery and keep your hair tied and covered.

  • Pest control: It is essential to keep pests (e.g. mice or ants) out of your premises to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Check your premises on a regular basis and keep everything tidy and free of rubbish. Make sure to check deliveries as well, to ensure there are no signs of pests. PS - it’s also important to keep your pets away from your kitchen.

  • Waste control: Keep your kitchen space clean and tidy, and free from rubbish and clutter that may pose a risk to food hygiene.

  • Checks and record-keeping: Show evidence of food hygiene due diligence. This comprises your food safety management system, daily such as temperature logs, risk assessments, and more.

Local authorities can also look at other aspects of food safety in your business. For instance, how you manage allergen information or deliveries.


EHO visit checklist


The Food Standards Agency has published a pdf EHO inspection checklist which can be accessed here.


This checklist covers all the aspects of food safety that you need to consider in an accessible, practical question format.


Remember that you should always be following the regulatory requirements and food safety best practices to ensure that the food you sell is safe to eat.


You can also find a useful hygiene checklist from the Nationwide Caterer’s Association here.


baking tray with cupcakes to illustrate selling food from home

Key mistakes to avoid when preparing for an EHO home kitchen visit


We asked a food safety consultant to tell us a bit about his experience with inspections, and key mistakes that he’s seen all types of food establishments make.


> Unorganised records & paperwork: Make sure you know where your HACCP plan and due diligence records are, including your Food Safety Management System and your daily, weekly and monthly food safety checks (e.g. temperature logs). Many people tend to panic when an EHO comes in and are unable to provide all the information and paperwork that’s required. An easy solution for this is using a digital app like Hubl, which keeps all your due diligence records in one place as well as helping cut costs, save time, and reduce paper.


> General (un)cleanliness: This may be an obvious one, but make sure to keep hand and food-contact surfaces clean. Don’t forget your fridges, freezers, and storage space, and remember to clean as you go. Don’t let bacteria and dirt build-up, as these can pose a food safety risk.


> Ineffective cross-contamination control: Make sure you’re using different, colour-coded utensils for raw and cooked food. It’s also critical to store raw food such as meat or fish separately on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Remember that cross-contamination can result in food poisoning so you must take all necessary precautions to avoid it. From delivery and storage to defrosting and preparation, cross-contamination can happen at any stage. PS - never wash raw meat!


> Activities that can compromise food safety: when your home is also your place of business, it can be tricky keeping things separate. But make sure that while you’re using your “commercial” kitchen, you’re not simultaneously doing other activities that could compromise food safety, e.g. doing laundry at the same time if the washing machine is in the kitchen.


In short, make sure that you’re adhering to the best practices outlined in your Food Safety Management System, from managing allergen information to personal hygiene and pest control.


What happens after an inspection?


Once an EHO home kitchen inspection has taken place, you will receive a letter from the local authorities outlining any improvements that need to be made. You are usually responsible for ensuring and confirming that these improvements are carried out.


Your business will also be awarded a food hygiene rating between 0 and 5. If you’ve been awarded a low score, you are more likely to receive more frequent visits from environmental health officers.


Food safety documentation


A key aspect of food safety that environmental health officers look at is your Food Safety Management System (FSMS). This is your documented set of policies and procedures on how you manage food safety.


You should keep records of your daily, weekly and monthly checks, as well as temperature logs and any issues that may arise (and their respective corrective actions).


Still using paper for your records? Paper-based systems often result in inefficiencies as they are time consuming and labour intensive. This is where digital food hygiene diary solutions and food temperature log apps come in, as they keep everything in one place.


Inspections at home: summary


In this article, we discussed what an EHO home kitchen inspection is, and how you can effectively prepare for it. From due diligence records to cleaning practices, there are a few critical aspects of food safety that you should always stay on top of.


Need to get in touch with local authorities? You can access FSA’s contact page to make an appeal, report an issue, or even register your food business.


If you’re thinking about starting a food business at home, check out FSA’s helpful guidance and requirements.



References


Food safety - your responsibilities, UK Government, Accessed in February 2022


Food hygiene inspections and your business, Southwark Council, Accessed in February 2022


Food safety inspections and enforcement, Food Standards Agency, Accessed in February 2022


FAQs - A Food Hygiene Inspection - What to Expect, Brighton & Hove City Council, Accessed in February 2022


Avoiding cross-contamination, Food Standards Agency, Accessed in February 2022


Personal hygiene, Guidance on what you and your staff must do when handling food, Food Standards Agency, Accessed in February 2022