Food hygiene and kitchens

If your place of worship prepares and/or sells food, either as a one-off fete or a more extensive catering operation, you need to take care and follow some basic precautions.

You must not:

  • sell (or keep for sale) food that is unfit for people to eat;
  • describe or present food in a false or misleading way;
  • sell food that is not what a customer is entitled to expect, either in terms of quality or content.

The following guidelines will help you to do this:

  • Ensure you are healthy to prevent bacteria and viruses being passed on;
  • Do not work with food if you have a cough, diarrhea, vomiting, sores, boils, rashes or any illness, or you have a cut or scrape that can’t be covered by a waterproof plaster;
  • Keep fingernails clean, without nail varnish and always trimmed;
  • Wash hands regularly; before work, between jobs – especially when switching between raw and cooked foods, or different types of food;
  • Wash after coming into contact with any possible contaminating source, including smoking, eating, drinking, using the toilet, handling rubbish or dirty dishes, scratching your body, using the telephone and handling money;
  • Do not use the food or dish sink for washing hands. After washing, dry with a clean towel or hot air dryer;
  • Always wear clean clothing when handling food and keep long hair away from your face, hands and the food by utilising a hat, hairnet, clips and bands. Do not store work clothing within food storage areas;
  • Remove jewellery and watches.
  • Wash raw vegetables and fruit thoroughly in a sink not used to wash hands or dishes;
  • Keep washed and unwashed food separate and wash hands after cleaning food;
  • If cutting or chopping use purpose-made plastic or rubber boards, ensuring they and the utensils used are cleared between processing different foods to prevent cross contamination; 
  • Have separate work surfaces, chopping boards and utensils for foods prepared free from one of several allergens and clean utensils before each usage, especially if they were used to prepare meals containing allergens.; 
  • storing ingredients and prepared foods separately in closed and labelled containers;
  • keeping ingredients that contain allergens separate from other ingredients; 
  • washing hands thoroughly between preparing dishes with and without certain allergens.
  • Clean all cooking equipment, ovens, fryers and mixers regularly, in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions;
  • Wipe counters and other food preparation areas with a sanitising agent after wiping up spillages;
  • Sweep and mop floors and clean walls regularly. Ensure all food is covered during such operations and include storage areas.
  • Check food on delivery for odour, colour, freshness, pests, and broken or damaged containers;
  • Keep food well away from cleaning materials. Rotate stock;
  • Store dry goods at least 460mm clear of the floor, well away from water and sewage pipes;
  • Store cooked and raw foods and different food types, separately.
  • Do not use out of date stock, or food from rusty, dented or damaged cans;
  • Cook to a centre temperature of above 70°c (158°F);
  • Prepare food as close as possible to serving time to leave less time for germs to multiply.
  • Keep all refuse containers closed or covered.  Remove from the food area regularly to avoid attracting pests or allowing germs to multiply;
  • Clean and disinfect refuse containers and the general area regularly.
  • Sinks must have two sections to wash and rinse dishes separately;
  • If machine washing ensure the dishes are scraped and rinsed before washing;
  • All dishes and utensils should be air-dried, cloths should not be used.
  • Keep hot food above 63°C (145°F) and cold food below 8°C (46°F) while waiting to be served;
  • Keep hands out of food and off eating surfaces;
  • Store serving utensils in the food with handle out and ensure they are clean and dry;
  • Don’t reuse unwrapped food such as biscuits, rolls, bread etc.;
  • Keep fresh clean plates and utensils at a salad bar;
  • Handle plates and bowls from the bottom;
  • Don’t reuse single service containers or utensils;
  • If serving food which is prepared on site, employees should be aware of the rules surrounding allergens and the café policy on food allergen management. 

The Food Standards Agency (FSA)

The FSA website has very helpful guidance and the Safer Food Better Business packs are designed to assist organisations to comply with Food Regulation.

Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) basics

The catering industry involves a variety of health and safety aspects, including substances hazardous to health, and are therefore regulated by COSHH. The Health and Safety Executive has helpful guidance for caters to follow. It is important that a safe working environment is provided for those working in a catering capacity and as such, risk assessments and health and safety policies should be reviewed regularly as a matter of best practice.