Ensuring food safety and hygiene standards are met when catering for schools

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Blog

Be it a sandwich at a deli or a meal at a school cafeteria, we place an unspoken trust in the product, producer and provider. Anything contrary to that goes against trust and food safety standards. Food can directly impact our well-being, and there should be no compromise on its safety. Raising the quality of school food has become a crusade in recent years. And quality is never complete without ensuring proper food safety and hygiene standards. So, how do you measure up when providing food for the future of our nation?

Importance of implementing Food Safety and Hygiene practices in schools

Focusing on food safety and hygiene can help increase meal uptake and transform attitudes towards healthy eating. Healthy and happy children help keep absenteeism low. Studies have shown that they also have better grades. So, what role does food safety play in school children’s well-being?

Physical health

Food and drink preparation for children must have an added layer of caution and care. From cooking meat at the right temperature to washing fruit and vegetables thoroughly, school caterers should follow nothing short of the best food safety and hygiene practices.


Food allergen management is crucial in catering. Parents, school staff and children go to great lengths to manage food intake with great care. Therefore, children with allergies should not be exposed to food allergens unexpectedly through cross-contamination.

Rigorous ingredient checks and the separation of allergens are essential safety measures. These include preventing cross-contamination in transit, storage, food preparation, delivery and serving. Cleaning work surfaces, using separate chopping boards and utensils, starting from scratch when mistakenly adding an allergen ingredient and hand washing before and after handling allergen ingredients reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Training staff, carrying out thorough checks on ingredients for every menu item, obtaining comprehensive information on special dietary requirements, providing detailed information on allergens in menu items and coordinating with school staff and parents can also help avoid the risk of cross-contamination.

Legal Compliance

There are guidelines for safer food practices in the UK. School caterers must also comply with government food standards for schools, including allergen management. Not doing so is a breach of regulation.

Strategies for ensuring food safety and hygiene standards

Schools and caterers have a responsibility to deliver safe food every time. There are several ways to accomplish this.

Staff training and education

Food safety and hygiene training are vital in school catering. All staff handling food, including chefs, kitchen assistants and servers, must undergo comprehensive training in food hygiene, safe food handling techniques, allergy management and personal cleanliness. Regular refresher courses that keep them up to speed on food safety regulations contribute to continuous improvements.

Identifying potential hazards in food production

School caterers should have a systematic approach to identify, evaluate, and control food safety hazards. It is a preventive measure that analyses each step of the food production process, identifies critical control points, and implements measures to prevent or eliminate food hazards. The three main food safety hazards are microbiological, chemical and physical. From traceability in supply chains to regular monitoring of kitchen routines, it can help prevent food safety loopholes or hygiene failures.

Utilisation of technology

Food safety management systems offer streamlined solutions for managing food safety across the board. These include technologies, protocols and strategies that mitigate risks. Remote digital temperature monitoring, malfunction alarms, temperature sensors and probes, smart sanitisation and automated logs are some of the technologies incorporated in Food Safety Management Systems.

Collaboration with suppliers

Maintaining meaningful and strong partnerships with suppliers ensures you know where your ingredients come from and how they get produced.

Partnering with a caterer

As we said before, trust is fundamental in the food industry. The caterer you choose for your school should have already built trust and partnerships that reflect their commitment to safe and healthy food. A good reputation doesn’t come on the off chance but by consistently delivering higher standards. Build your partnership with one that can offer bespoke solutions, flexibility, expertise and standards beyond the basics. Look at awards, accreditations and allergy management. Your pupils do not deserve any less.

Partnering with AiP for safe, healthy and nutritious meals

Behind every balanced diet should be excellent food hygiene and allergen management. School caterers should live up to the trust placed in them by parents, teachers, school administrators, and students. School meals should add to children’s well-being; if not, improve it.

Freshly preparing 75,000 meals per day across over 400 institutions in the education sector, we consider food safety and hygiene sacred. Sourcing locally, seasonally and organically whenever possible, we are sustainable-forward. Our allergen management solutions extend from staff training to digital platforms to track allergens. We work with the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) to elevate the quality of our food so that the nutrition of our meals is grounded in science. Get in touch with us today to transform your school meal programme.