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Home Cooked Food Donations – Don’t Put Yourself At Risk

Published on Wednesday, 13th May 2020

It is understandable and a credit to the generosity of members of the community in the Borough that people are coming forward with offers of home made food to be donated to those in need.

Whilst not wishing to discourage such initiatives, NBBC wish to offer a word of caution to cooks wishing to supply food to vulnerable and elderly people as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The elderly and vulnerable are particularly susceptible to food poisoning and food born illnesses, and allergies are a cause of concern for many people of all ages. If you are preparing food, baking or cooking meals at home to donate to people in our locality, you are being asked to contact the Food Team in the Council’s Environmental Health Department to discuss your activities. 

This is to discuss how to do so safely and because you might unwittingly have begun a food business and be covered by legislation that you are not even aware of.  The Council does not want our well-intentioned residents to find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Anyone providing onward distribution of donated home cooked food, or for that matter cooked food from other sources such as hot food vendors, are also exposed to legal controls and could harm those who they are trying to help. They should most certainly seek advice before starting this activity.

Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio holder for Planning, Development and Health, Cllr Neil Phillips said:

“Many people are wanting to do their bit for the community in this difficult time and have set about providing all manner of foods to those who need some help. Many don’t realise that they could be taking significant risks and if they cause someone to be ill from consuming the food they have supplied, they could be held liable and face legal action.

Food needs to be handled hygienically and comply with the law on allergens. Our food officers are there to provide advice and take action to help keep us all safe from food related illness.

If you are providing food on a regular basis or on any kind of scale, you may need to be legally registered as a food business. This applies even if you are not receiving any payment for your services. Once registered, you will then receive advice and guidance from our food officers to ensure that no one is put at any risk. I must add that there is no cost to registration so that should not deter you from contacting our officers.”

You can contact the Food Team on Tel: 02476 376401 or email:

Guidance is also available from the Food Standards Agency about community cooking and food banks.

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