Food businesses should be registered with their local council.  This includes all community buildings unless the committee don’t really have much to do with preparing food.

Food safety is about “The protection of consumer health and wellbeing by safeguarding food from anything that can cause harm”.  Good practice for community groups is to keep up to date with legislation by taking the Food Hygiene certificate and being retrained every 3 – 5 years.  The most serious consequence of getting things wrong is people getting ill.

It is important that the committee inform hirers what they can do in the kitchen in a village hall for example if there is no fridge, it is the responsibility of the event organiser to plan operations effectives by not preparing food too early before an event.  If anything does go wrong the event organisers will need to prove they took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence.  The committee will also need to prove they have provided a good facility.

The Four C’s For The Prevention Of Food Safety Problems

  • Cross contamination: Don’t let raw food come into contact with cooked food
  • Cleaning: Everything in the kitchen should be kept clean and well maintained. Use hot soapy water and antibacterial spray.  Let hirers know how to clean up and provide suitable products such as clothes and cleaners – or ask them to bring their own.
  • Chilling: legally food should be stored in a fridge at a temperature below 8°C, ideally though between 1°C to 5°C. Food in a freezer should be wrapped and stored at -18°C.
  • Cooking: at 63°C bacteria start to die, the core temperature of food should reach at least 75°C to kill off bacteria. If using a hot plate etc, cooked food (previously cooked to at least 75°C) should be kept above 63°C.

The Food Standards Agency has developed an excellent publication called “Safer Food Better Business” the catering pack is the one village halls should order.  It has different sections at the front that can be used as a training resource for committee members.  A committee that hires out a kitchen to a group could clean and inspect the kitchen before the event and note this in the book.  This will help the committee prove they have provided a good facility if anything goes wrong.  You could also ask the group just to make a note of what they have done – e.g. type of event (cooked food or cold buffet) and that they cleaned down the kitchen.