An Inspector Calls

We sell our honey to a local retail outlet, at craft and food fairs as well as to local people who want to buy honey direct from the producer.

To process and then sell or give away honey, beekeepers like us should be registered with and inspected by the local authority Environmental Health & Trading Standards department to ensure that we comply with the Food Hygiene Regulations.
We are registered with our local authority and are included on the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Last week we had our inspection visit from an environmental health officer. Although the regulations cover anyone who prepares, cooks, handles, or sells food, she told us that as we just process a single food item, our inspection would be very straightforward which indeed it was.

She looked at the steps we take to extract and process our honey; as an aide memoire we had prepared a summary of the steps we take when extracting our honey, a copy of which she took away for her records.

She understood that we work in a domestic setting so looked at the room where we primarily work, in our case, our kitchen; she looked at our extractor, and where and how this is stored as well as our honey buckets.

Her focus was that these steps were hygienic, legally compliant and avoided any possibility of cross contamination.

She looked at the PPE we wear when working with honey, and our hygiene practices.
She saw our honey jar labels and kept a sample for her records. All in all, it was a simple, easy process and for us an interesting, educative, and successful visit. Since meeting with her, we have received a report of her visit. We asked if she would send us information we could pass onto other beekeepers, and she has kindly sent us the following links.

Some of this information beekeepers should already be aware of but other ones are of more general interest.

Running a food business
Starting a food business
Food business registration
Honey Authenticity
Honey Labelling Guide
Honey Labelling
The Honey (England) Regulations 2015

A word of warning

Although the system of inspection itself is simple, leave yourself plenty of time to get this completed. Covid has introduced a further time delay, and so the visit may take time to get done.

However, be aware that the consequences of not registering is that legally a beekeeper shouldn’t regularly sell or give away honey and that if you breach this you could face a financial penalty or in extremis, a 2 year prison sentence.

Penny & Paul Twibill