Certification, Traceability & Standards In The Baking Industry

A bakery in north London was shut down and fined £150,000 for amongst other things using a tennis racquet as a kitchen utensil ( no this is not made up they were using it for mashing potatoes! see picture ). It brings up a serious issue about certification and standards. At Red Rose we are a SALSA certified, London based, wholesale bakery and patisserie which means we must undergo a rigorous annual inspection and audit to ensure we comply with strict regulations in food hygiene and food preparation.
Having spoken to a large catering client of ours recently, operating in a niche market, they said they see small scale operators enter the market time and time again without certification or public liability insurance and with low overheads undercut everyone on price. Supported with a stylish website, they were able to make small inroads into the market. They went on to say they usually had a lifespan of 3 years as they were not able to sustain the inevitable quiet periods and disappeared as quickly as they appeared and were viewed in amusement rather like an elephant views a mosquito buzzing around.
We all know someone that makes wedding cakes or birthday cakes , a friend of a friend, baking from home, possibly with a dog or cat running around or a few screaming kids. You wouldn’t know by looking at a well designed website if they’re certified or insured and your business, that has been established for decades, which is fully compliant in regards to hygiene, health and safety & insurance and at a considerable cost is competing against someone working from their kitchen. Next thing you know your side by side on google seemingly giving you an equal billing when nothing could be further from the truth.
Checking for certification and asking the right questions is something that businesses should encourage the customer to do during the buying process so that they are better informed to make the best decision possible. Sometimes when the price is too good to be true it comes at a cost and having your food prepared with a tennis racket, hockey stick or boxing glove isnt worth that price.