Nowadays, many people are exploring the idea of starting a home business in order to share their products and ideas with the community around them. With growing interest in doing so, more and more people need guidance on how exactly to go about this. This guide will assist in the preliminary steps needed to take in order to start a home business in Ontario. This guide provides steps and a brief but packed review of public health requirements to ensure that both you and your customers are safe and satisfied.
Choosing what food you would like to sell
The first step is to select which type of food you would like to sell. There are several categories of foods that are sold through small businesses, like baked goods, oils, candles, honey and much more. Home-based food businesses (e.g. private chefs, farmer’s market vendors) are allowed to sell food in keeping with the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) and the Food Premises Regulation.
There have been changes made to the Food Premises Regulation that makes it even easier for individuals who are looking to sell lower-risk foods that are prepared at home.
You may be wondering, what are low-risk food items? They are non-hazardous and do not require time and temperature control. Some examples of these foods are the majority of bread and buns (without meat and fillings), many baked goods (without custard), chocolates, hard candies, brittles, coffee beans and tea leaves. All these products are quite easy to begin producing and selling with less risk than other items.
You may want to do extensive research on the product that you are planning on selling, and consult with other small business owners to see what advice they may have. Always remember that research is critical, as there are several things to consider when opening a business.
Notify your local public health unit
This is the next step in opening your business, the notification process. An important thing to do is that you must contact your public health unit where your business will be located and you have to let them know that you are a new food operator. The local health unit and the staff will have to provide further guidance on safety measures to consider and pay attention to depending on what you are planning on preparing.
Some of these safety measures may include food preparation activities and safe operational practices. These are all to ensure that your products are safe enough to be used and consumed by the general public. As a new business owner, the last thing you would like to do is harm someone’s health.
When the public health unit is notified, they will contact you with more in-depth instructions and guidance on how exactly they would prefer you begin your business.
Review the public health requirements
The third step in this process is to review the public health requirements in your local area. All food premises, also including home-based food businesses must follow requirements of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), the Food Premises Regulation and periodic inspection by inspectors from their local public health unit.
A food premise is where food is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold, or offered for sale. All food premises are subjected to the requirements of the Ontario Food Premises Regulation including allowing access to Public Health Inspectors to conduct inspections. Inspection results will be posted on the DineSafe website and an Inspection Notice (Pass, Conditional Pass, or Closed) must be posted at the location of the premises.
A food premise should be kept sanitary, with proper guidelines and safety precautions taken. This may include thinking about what sanitary products to purchase, how to minimize contamination and so on.
Also, home-based food businesses that ONLY produce low-risk foods are exempt from certain regulatory requirements like specified handwashing stations in food premises, compliance with commercial dishwashing requirements; and food handling training certification.
For more information on compliance with the Food Premises Regulation, you can review The Ministry of Health resources for the full list of public health requirements and best practices to help guide you. There are a few helpful sources to assist you with labeling foods, declaring allergens and safety measures, which are crucial for your business.
Open your business
The last step in this process is to eventually open your business.
For any questions about public health requirements in the Health Protection and Promotion Act or the Food Premises Regulation, please contact the local health unit where your home-based food business is located and speak with a public health inspector.
This is the final step, and once all of the above have been accomplished, you may finally open your business! Congratulations, this was a big decision, and we wish you all the best!
For a list of local health units and their contact information, please visit the following link:
For information and support about running your home-based food business such as funding, business, and legal advice, etc., please visit the Small Business Access website.
This guide is not intended to provide legal advice on the requirements of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) or the Food Premises Regulation (O. Reg. 493/17) under the HPPA and is for information purposes only. In the event of any conflict between this guidance and the regulation, the requirements under the regulation prevail. It is also recommended to review any zoning by-laws, municipal permits, and licensing requirements that pertain to your region.