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Ensuring Food Safety: Best Practices for Combining Floristry and Food

Updated: May 10

an image of the draft front cover of floristry and food guidance

You may have heard that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) planned to release a document called 'Floristry and Food' during this year (2024).

I had the privilege of being a stakeholder and reviewed the draft document in February, directly offering feedback to the FSA.

While it was intriguing, the document was excessively wordy, and, frankly, it requires a lot of refinement before it is publicly released.

There were many different stakeholders that read the draft document - cake makers and florists were among them. Based on the all feedback the FSA received, they have decided to review the whole document and consider an alternative way to provide the guidance. There is no time frame given for when this guidance will be released, but I will be in regular contact with them to find out their progress.

I recently came across a blog and some social media comments that were stating the Food Standards Agency were creating a new law/legislation for the use of fresh flowers on cakes. I have seen other comments saying that the use of fresh flowers on cakes will be 'banned'.

This is certainly NOT true.

While reading the draft document, I never perceived it as potential new legislation. The document states, it "...does not represent an interpretation of the law." In fact, the document was outlining many considerations that a lot of food businesses may have never even thought of - it was thorough!

The FSA email stating they are aware of rumours within cake making circles.
FSA Email on 8/5/24

The clue is in the title - "A guide for the use of flowers as food contact materials". The contents of the document is guidance.

I sent an email to the policy advisor to check in and see what progress was being made on the guidance since my feedback was given. Without even mentioning it, they made a comment on the rumours that I had also seen. Their comment was, "Currently we are aware of rumours in cake making circles that the Agency was intending to introduce specific legislation on cake decorating. I can dispel that story, we have no plans to change the law in this regard".

I'm disheartened by the spread of such rumours and the presence of misleading posts and articles. They are causing unnecessary concern, worry, and stress within the cake community and worse, causing conflict!

The guide was intended to help principally florists, however, it also states that it will help cake makers, caterers, event coordinators and anyone else that would use floristry with food.

It’s to help us consider all the risks of using fresh flowers and foliage that come into contact with any food. You can imagine that cakes are likely to be the most common food product that would have contact with flowers.

There has always been advice out there for the use of flowers on cakes (not that I think there is enough of it!). It is common sense that we avoid putting toxic flowers or foliage on cakes, however, not everyone knows which plants are toxic!

The draft document was outlining food safety and good practice for using floristry with food. For example, as a cake business, the document asked a lot of questions that we would need to consider when we add fresh florals to our cakes.

A few things you would need to consider:

  • Where did the flowers come from? Do you know their origin?

  • Have pesticides been used on the flowers? Or are they organic?

  • Are you able to identify the plant?

  • Do you know if the plant is harmful, if it is consumed?

  • Do you have sufficient food safety knowledge to know how to safely apply them to cakes?

  • How will the flowers be attached to the cake in a safe way, so it will not cause harm to someone?

  • Are you using food safe materials to apply flowers to the cakes?

  • What information are you providing to other suppliers about the flowers you have used on our cakes.

While this list is not exhaustive, it provides an overview of the types of questions addressed in the guidance.

The bottom line is, this guidance is to allow people that add flowers and foliage to food products, to consider the risks of doing so. In turn, reducing the risk of harm to anyone consuming that food product, just like we would with any cross contamination risk.

There are cake makers that apply flowers to their own cakes, and some cake makers allow florists to apply them. We all need to be on the same page when it comes to food safety. Florists are not always food safety trained, meaning they might not be aware of how to stop cross contamination. Cake makers are not always trained in floristry, so they may not be able to identify a particular flower that could potentially be harmful. So we need to work together to ensure the safety of our food products.

The guidance is aimed to do just that.

We need to stay vigilant with how we use flowers on our cakes. I take pride in being an expert in cake flowers. I have worked with all types of flowers and liaise with many florists each month as part of my wedding cake business. Food safety is obviously paramount in the work I do, as well as creating gorgeous looking wedding cakes.

While the new guidance may not constitute law or legislation, it remains crucial for ensuring food safety in your food business. The FSA is not banning the use of fresh flowers on cakes, but they do want us to do it safely in relation to food safety.

Later this year (2024), I’ll be doing some full training on the topic. I will be covering the safe ways in which you can add fresh flowers and foliage to your cakes, which plants are safe to use and which ones to avoid, how to identify such plants, and how to liaise with florists.

The first page of the download - 7 toxic flowers and foliage you should not use on cakes

I have a free download for all cake makers (and florists and caterers) that lists the most popular toxic flowers and foliage that should not be used on cakes.

You can follow me on Instagram at The Baking Business Lounge where I post plenty of advice about keeping your bakes safe with fresh flowers, and more.You can also join my mailing list for further updates and a monthly newsletter.

If you have any questions regarding the FSA Floristry and Food guidance, please email me - If I am unable to answer your questions, I will be happy to pass them onto the FSA representative and let you know what they say.

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