In the UK, all schools are subject to a Food Standards Agency (FSA) inspection. During the inspection, the inspector will be looking to make sure that adequate food hygiene requirements are in place. This includes checking that staff who work with the food have received suitable training, which is a legal requirement.
Those working with food should know the potential dangers of poor hygiene and have an understanding of the best food and hygiene practices.
The importance of food hygiene in schools
Food hygiene is extremely important, regardless of what sector you’re in. However, adequate food hygiene is particularly important in schools due to their busy nature. This means that if there has been any cross-contamination or other hygiene issues in the kitchen, that food could be fed to hundreds of pupils before the issue has been recognised.
This includes the cross-contamination of allergens, dietary requirements, and food that has been left out for too long.
Food allergens in schools
Allergens are foods that can trigger an out of the ordinary response in someone's immune system. Typically, there are 14 common food allergens, and this should be information available to the consumer if the food contains any of these allergens.
In schools, all staff should know of the main allergens and how to minimise the risks they pose. This is due to the fact that there are potentially many food handlers, including kitchen staff, teachers, and parents/pupils.
Therefore, it is essential that they are able to understand their responsibilities when it comes to food hygiene & allergens.
Dietary requirements in schools
Although it isn’t a legal requirement to facilitate to all dietary requirements, you must be entirely accurate and honest on whether a food conforms to certain dietary requirements.
If food hygiene legislation is followed correctly, it ensures that no food would be cross-contaminated and falsely claimed to meet a specific dietary requirement. For example, advertising a meal as vegan, when it has been cross-contaminated with bacteria from refrigerated meat.
Here are a few examples of dietary requirements schools may have to cater to:
This refers to any food that somebody has a problematic experience with digesting. If somebody has consumed food in which they have an intolerance to, some of the symptoms the consumer may experience are:
- Stomach pain
- A rash
Vegetarians, Vegans, and Pescatarians
There are many types of vegetarians, but you will most likely be catering for lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who avoid eating meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, and by-products of animals.
Similar to vegetarians, pescatarians will avoid eating these meats but will eat seafood.
A vegan diet is the same as vegetarian but also excludes any product associated with animals, including dairy and eggs.
Some pupils may have dietary requirements due to their religious beliefs.
Most commonly, you’ll have to prepare Halal and kosher foods, which conform to Islamic and Jewish teachings respectively.
It’s essential as someone who handles food to provide food that is actually what you claim it to be. You must be particularly careful with the food that is halal or kosher by storing, preparing, cooking and serving it to very strict standards.
Taking precautions, such as using different chopping boards and fridges helps to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination with foods that do not conform to these teachings.
Food Hygiene Training for schools - who needs it?
Going back to our previous statement, it is absolutely essential that school staff have training in place to teach them about food hygiene and allergens. ANY member of staff who is involved in food production, preparation or sale needs training.
Not only does it provide them with a better understanding of their responsibilities, but it also helps them to understand the risk posed with working with food in schools.
Here at iHASCO, we offer a Food Safety & Hygiene Certification Courses bundle that can provide staff with the knowledge needed to reduce the risk associated with food. It also helps with showing due-diligence with current legislation.
You can claim a no-obligation free trial to any of our training courses today!