Prepared meal services have exploded on to the culinary scene, especially after COVID-19 closed down restaurants, leaving consumers scrambling for an alternative. Meals are prepared in commercial kitchen settings and are ordered in advance as a one-off service or as a regular meal service for busy families and professionals.
We have had clients who, for example:
- prepared biryani once a week, portioned them and delivered them to clients;
- made a different curry every day, packaging them family-style with rice or naans for busy families in the South-Asian communities;
- made different specialty meals every day, geared to healthy lifestyles - keto-friendly meals, vegan meals, vegetarian meals etc.;
- prepared casseroles and pasta dishes, packaging them in 'serves 2', 'serves 4', and 'serves 6' packages.
These are just a small sample of the different meal services that have been offered.
Meals must be transported in a food-safe manner, to avoid the risks of food poisoning, no matter who is transporting them. They are generally picked up by the customer from the commercial kitchen where they are prepared, at pre-arranged pick-up times. Alternatively, the meals can be delivered directly at home or at work by the business owner or by a professional food delivery companies, such as Uber Eats and Skip-The-Dishes. This type of service is covered under our insurance program.
Operating any foodservice business without liability insurance is risky, and could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Would you pay someone to cook food for you who didn't care enough to protect your health and wellbeing? Without the protection of liability insurance, a meal delivery, prepared meal/ packaged meal or tiffin service would be responsible for any costs of a medical or legal claim. Your business could be dragged into a lawsuit should someone become ill, get food poisoning or injured from a foreign body in the food, e.g. a chipped tooth from improperly washed lettuce. Lawyers will look at every stage of the process, and try to apportion the blame on everyone involved. Having liability insurance will protect you should this occur.If they don't have the money to pay, then, depending on the company structure, could leave the business owners responsible for these costs.
For catering companies using a commercial kitchen or rental space, there may be a requirement to add the location as an 'Additional Insured.' This can quickly and easily be done at any stage. We can also increase Tenant's Legal Liability, if required, from the standard $100,000 to up to $2,000,000. We have partnered with many commercial kitchens and incubator kitchens etc. across Canada and can introduce you to them, if required.
Your local government will require that food for sale be prepared in a kitchen that has been inspected and meets health standards. Cooking in your home kitchen will not be acceptable unless it has been officially inspected and passes their criteria, is independent from your family kitchen and solely used for your business (i.e. not personal, home cooking). This can be costly, especially if you have to have to create a new kitchen space. An alternative is to use a commercial kitchen that rents by the hour or by the day.
Commercial General Liability Insurance is a must for anyone preparing food commercially. It protects you and your finances should there be a claim from someone consuming your food; it also protects you should a claim arise from clients coming to your workplace for business-related meetings or to pick up food. Without it, you will be personally liable for your legal fees and all the costs of a successful claim. Having it protects your hard-earned income and gives you peace of mind. This is where Chef Insurance come in, and our Success Managers are always ready to assist and answer your questions.
Your accountant can advise you on how to set up your business to take advantage of tax rules relating to business expenses. You should also discuss the best way to set up your business (e.g. a sole proprietorship, a corporation etc.) to declare income, whether you need to charge sales tax etc. Remember, it is a crime to earn income, including tips, without declaring it to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and there can be serious consequences for doing so. Being convicted of tax evasion can also lead to fingerprinting, court imposed fines, jail time, and a criminal record. When taxpayers are convicted of tax evasion, they must still repay the full amount of taxes owing, plus interest and any civil penalties assessed by the CRA.
There are many practices that are OK for a home-cook preparing food for their own family that are not OK when preparing food for sale. If you have not already done so, you should enrol in a course to get up-to-date food safety training. After all, anyone working with food can have a serious effect on the health and wellbeing of those consuming the food - it could be a matter of life and death. Being armed with the necessary knowledge of how to handle food correctly, is essential to any foodservice business.
The Chef Alliance is a leading foodservice association in Canada offering Chefs and Entrepreneurs a place to grow their business. They can benefit from liability insurance to protect their clients and finances, peer support strengthen their business, discounts to lower their business costs, market their services and increase profits. This leaves them time to concentrate on what they do best - cook great food!