A home bakery enables you to produce food in your house, eliminating the need for costly commercial kitchen rentals. As you get started, it’s important to follow Canada’s complex food production laws. By securing all necessary licences and permits in advance, you can build a legal, profitable home-bakery business.
In most provinces, the easiest and least expensive way to use a home bakery is to sell your goods at farmers markets. Farmers market vendors are often exempt from many food laws, so you can start selling without jumping through hoops. In Ontario, for example, the Food Premises section of the Health Protection and Promotion Act allows farmers market vendors to sell without a health inspection. In Manitoba, you can sell baked goods at farmers markets, as long as they are securely wrapped, displayed at least six inches off the ground, and handled by clean, healthy people. To find regulations for your province, check with your local Environmental Health agency or health inspector.
Zoning and General Licences
If you’re planning to sell your baked goods anywhere other than farmers markets, your home kitchen will likely be classified as a commercial bakery. To get it up and running, you may need a variety of federal, provincial, and city permits and licences. A great place to start is to run a Canada Business Network permits and licences search. Enter your city name, and select “Retail and commercial bakeries, bakery product manufacturing” as your business type. The website returns a list of licences you may need.
Most cities have specific licencing requirements to operate a business out of your home. In almost all cases, you need a business licence and zoning approval. If you plan to have customers come to your home to pick up baked goods, or if you plan to put up signs, you may also need city permits. Before you do anything else, including investing money in your bakery, visit your municipal office — it can help you get the process started.
Health and Safety Inspections
Since food production is heavily regulated to ensure public health, your home kitchen is likely to come under close scrutiny by government officials. Start with your local health authority to find out about the permits and inspections you need for a home bakery. Common requirements include:
- Food handling permits
- Food safety certification
- Compliance with Canadian Food Inspection Agency safety standards and labelling regulations
- Compliance with provincial public health laws
- Health inspection
The meeting with the health authority may bring up surprising regulations. In Alberta, for example, your food business must be physically separate from the rest of the house to receive a food handling permit, which means that you cannot use your household kitchen. If your province or municipality allows use of the home kitchen, it must pass the health inspection and building safety inspection. The inspections cover areas such as:
- Food storage and handling
- Sanitation and hygiene
- Flooring and walls
- Temperature control
- Equipment and food-preparation surfaces
- Condition of electrical, HVAC, and plumbing
Opening a home bakery is a complicated and time-consuming process, but it ensures that your business can operate legally and safely. With persistence and careful attention to detail, you can get your bakery off the ground and enjoy the benefits of a home-based business.