The Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 came into force on 1 January 2015. They are made under s.114A of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, and establish food-based standards in schools.
Good standards of food management are long established and embedded into the risk management processes within schools, however, there are occasions such as charity fundraising events where food may be prepared by guardians, carers, parents etc. where there will be less control by schools over food preparation, storage and handling, therefore increasing the potential of this food not being fit for consumption.
This guidance document is intended to assist clients in ensuring there is a robust risk management approach to food safety which is not directly prepared by the school.
Food occasionally prepared outside the school by parents or others, for example for a school function, is ultimately beyond the direct control of the school. As such, it is difficult to monitor and assess the risk.
The 2014 Regulations clearly indicate, in s.2 that they do not apply to food provided:
Regardless of the exception, the school must ensure that if it is allowing an event to be held on its premises then all aspects of any catering arrangements which are provided by the school, such as storage facilities, surfaces, cutlery, crockery, washing up facilities and so on, do not pose a risk to health.
Having an exception to the Regulations does not mean there is no risk. All food supplied, sold, or provided at charity or community events, such as street parties, school fetes or fundraisers, must comply with relevant food laws and be safe to eat. The person providing the food takes on this responsibility and as such, it is essential that those preparing, storing, and selling food follow the good food hygiene advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) which is detailed below:
On the day, people bringing in food from home or running the stall should follow these tips:
Under the Food Information Regulations 2014, there is a legal responsibility to label any food and drink served or sold with information about 14 specified allergens listed in the Regulations.
This will not apply at charity fundraising events, however, in an age where allergies and intolerances are so widespread, and given some reported fatalities caused by food allergens, it is good practice to let people know what they’re eating and therefore, assist to minimise the risk of problems or complaints.
Some of the most notable food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
Schools should have safety policies supported by risk assessments of particular hazards relating to its associated activities. A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of hazards likely to exist, an assessment of whether the particular hazard is likely to harm anyone and what precautions need to be taken.
Where charity fund raisers involving the introduction of food from non-school sources, the organising group must ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is in place to minimise risk of food poisoning and other related adverse effects.
The risk assessment must identify all the hazards, who is at risk and those especially at risk (those who may suffer allergies), taking into account control measures have been evaluated, and the remaining risk is low.
Further information on risk assessments in general can be found on the Health and Safety Executive Website and on the suitability and sufficiency of risk assessments can be found on the RMP Website for clients.
The organising group are required to ensure they have sufficient insurance cover in case of an adverse event. For example, an event organised by the Parents and Teachers Association will require separate liability insurance if their activities are not covered by the school’s insurance policy.
An outbreak of salmonella food poisoning, at a Newcastle Street Spice Festival in 2013 resulted in 50 people being awarded compensation for their suffering. The victims were awarded a share of over £400,000.
This serves to reinforce the message that no event should be held without appropriate risk controls and insurance in place.
In most cases, charity events within the School environment will be run by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). The PTA should ensure that: