Last updated: 03.01.24

Food Hygiene for Childminders


Childminding can be one of the most rewarding careers for those who love to work with children, but it’s not all fun and games. There are many things that you need to think about in order to keep those in your care safe. 

One such consideration is food. Children can be particularly susceptible to foodborne illnesses for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that they generally have a weaker immune system, which means that they’re more likely to get ill, and if they do it can be more severe. 

It’s important to note that good hygiene is very important however the food is served. Many childminders won’t actually make food themselves, but if you’re reheating, cutting up, or plating food that the children have brought from home, then it’s still very important to understand food hygiene.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what you need to know when it comes to food hygiene requirements for childminders.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Childminder?

A childminder is a childcare provider who cares for babies and children in their own home. This may involve providing learning and development opportunities for younger children and keeping them engaged and occupied during the day, as well as dropping off and picking up older children from school and pre-school.

Childminders are responsible for providing high-quality childcare, which involves planning and facilitating play-based activities, providing them with adequate nutrition and keeping them safe physically and emotionally. When it comes to childminders and food hygiene, not all childminders provide food for the children in their care, but they should all take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of food-related hazards in their homes.

Childminding Legislation in England

Food hygiene law in the UK is fairly flexible and is very much focused on making sure that businesses are doing the right thing in practice. There are few hard and fast childminding rules and regulations when it comes to food safety – you must simply be preparing and serving food safely to the children in your care. 

There are many things that contribute to this that we’ll cover shortly, but ultimately, it’s up to your local authority as to whether you’re doing a good job. Just as with any other business that prepares or serves food, health inspectors can and will make spot checks of the premises and your processes to make sure that they are up to standard.

In order to know what these standards are, the law suggests that anyone working with food as part of their job has appropriate training for what they do. There isn’t a set requirement here – training could be formal or an informal online food hygiene course for childminders, but most business owners will take at least the Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate. This gives a very good overview of what is expected of any food handler. Level 3 is also an option, but unlikely to be necessary for a childminder. Level 1 however may be too basic.

If you’re in any doubt as to what the law requires of you as a childminder, then your first port of call should be your local authority, as rules can vary from region to region. Both normal health and safety inspectors, and those concerned with safeguarding, may have an input.

Food Allergy Policy for Childminders

Allergies can be quite common in children, and they range from minor inconveniences to life-threatening conditions. As a result, it’s hugely important that childminders are aware of and cater to any special requirements that children have. 

The law does require that childminders know what they are serving and what special requirements any child in their care has, such as an allergy action plan. Information should also be readily available to the child’s parents so that they can assess the suitability of the food.

As a childminder, it’s a good idea to have a food allergy policy that outlines how you deal with allergen ingredients and what you have in place to prevent cross-contamination. This is not only useful if you’re being inspected, but also can help to reassure parents whose children have allergies.

Food Hygiene for Childminders: Best Practice

There are lots of things to think about when it comes to food hygiene, but perhaps the easiest way to understand the broad topic is through the 4 Cs of food safety. These four topics indicate the main areas that should be addressed when you’re thinking about food hygiene.

The four Cs are cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling and cooking. We’re going to take a quick look at the important points for each of these, but do note that there is no substitute for formal training.


Cross-contamination is all about preventing bacteria and other problem microorganisms, as well as certain food items, from unintentionally coming into contact with one another. This is something that will be important at all stages of the food preparation process. 

Preventing cross contaminations means preventing things like raw and uncooked food from coming into contact, and preventing potential allergens from coming into contact with other foods. This is generally achieved through excellent cleaning, storage, and handwashing practices.

If you’re cooking for the children you childmind, make sure that you’re using separate utensils and equipment to cook different ingredients, especially meat, and be especially careful about contamination if you have children with allergies. If you’re just storing packed lunches or serving snacks, be sure that food is stored properly in the fridge and kept separate from any raw ingredients.


Cleaning is a fairly self-explanatory aspect of food hygiene for childminders. The cleaner your kitchen is, the safer it’s going to be for children eating food prepared in it. 

Make sure that you’re thoroughly cleaning everything from appliances to worksurfaces to crockery. This will significantly reduce the chances of foodborne illnesses becoming a problem, especially in the kitchen.

Young children in particular tend to put a lot of things in their mouths, including their hands, which is a reason why you should keep surfaces and other items in your house as clean as possible. Things like tables or countertops should be cleaned before and after eating, and it goes without saying that children should have clean hands when they’re eating as well.


Chilling food reduces the chance and speed at which bacteria can reproduce, so it keeps many types of food safe to eat for a longer time than if it were left at room temperature. Temperature control is another important aspect of food hygiene requirements for childminders, as any food that isn’t kept chilled when it should be presents a significant health risk to you and the children in your care.

Always know what should and should not be kept in the fridge, and how long it can be kept there. As a childminder and the owner of a business that serves food, you should be extra strict, which means checking to make sure that your refrigerator is below 5°C at all times.

If children are showing up with food to eat as a snack or at lunchtime, this should be stored in the fridge so that it stays fresh and safe. It’s a good idea to have a process in place which ensures any food that arrives from home is stored safely in the fridge as soon as children are dropped off.


Whilst cooking is not something that all childminders will need to worry about, it’s important to recognise the safety aspect nonetheless. Raw food presents a significant health hazard and must be cooked appropriately to ensure that bacteria has been killed and that it’s safe to eat.

 70°C is generally recognized as a safe temperature for most items, so if you are cooking for the children you care for, you need to ensure that any reheated or cooked food exceeds this value. Baby food especially must be heated thoroughly throughout, so it can be useful to purchase a kitchen thermometer to be sure you’re heating food safely.


Do childminders need a food hygiene certificate?

Childminders are not legally required to have a food hygiene certificate, but it is a straightforward way of demonstrating your compliance with food hygiene guidance. Not only will it reassure parents that their children are safe in your care, but it will also show any food hygiene or childcare inspectors that you understand what is required in food health and safety.

What qualifications do you need to be a childminder?

You don’t technically need any qualifications to become a childminder, but you do need to pass a range of courses and background checks that prove you’re safe to work with children and register as an official childminder. A food hygiene course for childminders is not a requirement, but it is a really useful qualification to gain when you’re becoming a childminder to ensure that you keep the children in your care safe.

Can a childminder refuse a child who has allergies?

A childminder or childcare provider cannot refuse to look after a child solely because they have allergies. If you are asked to care for a child with allergies you should take appropriate measures to prepare for this, and if you do not feel qualified then you should let the parents know so they can consider a safer or more qualified childcare provider.


Being a childminder can be a fantastic and very rewarding job, but it does require a lot of preparation and training to ensure that you are keeping the children in your care safe. A key part of this is good food hygiene, relating to how you store and serve the food you give children, how clean you keep the kitchen and dining area, and how you handle allergy risks. Completing a food hygiene course for childminders is the best way to prepare for all of these and ensure you can do your job effectively.

If you’re a childminder looking to improve your food hygiene knowledge, Virtual College is pleased to be able to offer a range of food hygiene courses that are a great way for childminders to learn what is necessary for following official guidance and legislation.