From Hive to Honeypot (Part 3): Cleaning and the Food Room

From Bee Craft May 2009

Andy Pedley

What do you need to comply with the law when you are extracting and bottling?

THE LAW requires your premises and equipment to be clean, so before you start, wash everything even if it is brand new and looks clean. That goes for your extractor, honey buckets and lids, strainers/sieves, uncapping tray, uncapping forks, knives, honey jars, lids, etc

Use hot water and a food-safe detergent or detergent sterilant (or sanitiser), readily available from supermarkets. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrub! Work in a good light and wear your glasses (contact lenses) so you can see what you are doing. Rinse and allow to dry (air drying is better than wiping with a cloth). As an alternative, use a dishwasher.


Food safety signs

There are very specific requirements for food rooms

– these are contained in the EU Regulation 852/2004.

So you need a suitable place to work. As a hobbyist, you may be using a domestic kitchen, although not all kitchens will be suitable, and larger producers will need proper food preparation facilities commensurate with the size of their operation. The room you work in will need to be clean, ‘readily cleansable’ and in good condition. If your kitchen is constructed conventionally, with plastered ceilings and walls, emulsion paint, impervious work surfaces in good condition and tiles where appropriate, then it is likely to be satisfactory.

Carpet, laminate or unsealed wood would all be very questionable as a floor covering in a food room and if your kitchen has any of these then you may want to consider providing some kind of temporary, cleansable covering. Sheet vinyl would be acceptable. Heavy duty vinyl sheet is available and considered to be the minimum acceptable in commercial food premises.

If your kitchen is ‘typically clean’ then you ought not to have too much cleaning to do in advance. If you are a candidate for ‘How Clean Is Your House?’, then don’t even think about using it until Kim and Aggie have been. The premises must be free of vermin – rats, mice, cockroaches, etc.


The kitchen must have a sink with hot and cold water supplies and, separately, somewhere to wash your hands whilst working. This needs to be signed ‘hand washing only’ or similar – few domestic kitchens have a wash hand basin. A possible compromise is to have a bucket that is filled with hot water and refreshed when necessary. Work surfaces must be in good condition and easy to clean. Stainless steel is best, but laminate would be acceptable in a domestic kitchen.

The water supply must be good – mains drinking water is likely to be fine, but if you have a ‘private supply’, perhaps a well or borehole, then it must be of potable quality and comply with the Water Supply Regulations 1991.

If you refit your kitchen, it would be worth getting a double sink installed so that half could be used for equipment washing and half for hand washing. If you are considering setting up a specific honey house or are working on a commercial basis, contact your local Environmental Health Department to discuss your plans and find out what is required, before you start.


Antibacterial cleansers -for your equipment and you!

Requirements extend beyond the room that you use – specifically to the toilets.

The toilet needs to be separated from the kitchen by at least two doors and both the loo and the intervening lobby need natural or mechanical ventilation. You must have a hand wash basin near the loo. This must be provided with hot and cold water (or water at a suitably controlled temperature).

Doors need to be readily cleansable and disinfected. This is especially important in the ‘hand contact area’ of the loo door. Gloss paint would be acceptable.

Consider getting an ultraviolet fly-killing device.


A series of publications, Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice, gives ‘advice on good practice’. (Download the Catering Guide version from

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