Serving up lunches in the school canteen for both students and teachers alike is no different than working in any other kitchen environment. Rustling up some tasty dishes is a big part of it, but so is ensuring that you’re upholding the high hygiene standards as you’d expect from a food vendor on the high street.
There are several pieces of legislation that apply to school kitchens the same way it applies to food businesses in retail and hospitality, so we’ve broken down the biggest bits for you below to study up on.
Arguably the most important regulation you need to be aware of is the Food Safety Act 1990, which covers everything from preparing and storing food to delivering and selling it. Under this act, it is an offence to sell or serve any food which fails to meet the required safety standards, so understanding what these standards are will allow you to produce the best food products possible.
These standards include:
In conjunction with the Food Safety Act 1990, there are additional supporting regulations which help to govern these standards – the Food Hygiene Regulations 1990, Food Labelling Regulations 1990 and Food Premises Regulations 1991. These help to make sure that businesses aren’t posing any risks to the health of consumers, whether that’s students, teachers or visitors, and are trading in accordance with all relevant food laws.
When looking at how these laws are carried over to practical food technology classes taken by students, things get a little more flexible. As the Food Safety Act 1990 doesn’t cover food prepared at home for domestic purposes, most authorities accept that any food prepared in a food technology class for personal or home is exempt for this legislation.
Another big piece of food hygiene legislation which comes into the school setting is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), which means there must be assessments carried out which review any materials present and implement adequate measures to control substances which could pose risks to consumers. This would include bacteria or viruses which could come into contact with food if improperly handled, but also items such as cleaning chemicals.
A combination of good hygiene practices and awareness of key food hygiene legislation is essential in school kitchen environments, both of which can be obtained through our online food hygiene and safety courses. These courses will ensure that any staff working in your school cafeteria are covered and know the food laws which they need to comply with.
We have many great resources to help make sure you maintain high food safety standards, such as our food premises self-inspection checklist, our HACCP cleaning schedule as well as an infographic on how to store food safely.