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Community halls - food safety

Food safety guide

Halls where food is prepared or handled must be registered with their local Public Protection Department. This even includes halls where only drinks are served and no charge is made. Registration is free.

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The hall must comply with the various requirements of food safety legislation. However, the standard expected depends on the activities taking place. If, for example, lunches are being cooked regularly, the structural requirements will be greater than if it is only used to prepare drinks and biscuits.

  • Floors should be in good condition, non absorbent, anti-slip and easily cleaned. Carpeting or unsealed wooden floors are not acceptable.
  • Walls should be smooth, impervious, non-flaking and easily cleanable. Gloss or vinyl silk paint is suitable. Sinks, wash hand basins and worktops should ideally have a tiled splashback.
  • Ceiling finishes should be smooth, impervious, non-flaking and easily cleaned. Do not use textured finishes such as Artex.
  • Woodwork eg window and door frames, shelving etc should be sealed (eg by painting so that it is smooth, impervious and easily cleanable).
  • Work surfaces must be impervious and easily cleanable with no gaps or crevices at the sides or back. All edges must be satisfactorily sealed, especially chipboard.
  • An adequate number of power points should be available to avoid the need for long flexes.
  • There should be an plentiful supply of hot and cold water and adequate trapped drainage to cope with peak loads.
  • There should be sufficient ventilation to prevent excessive heat, steam and condensation, to remove odours and replenish fresh air. Natural ventilation will usually be sufficient but care should be taken to prevent the entry of insects.
  • Outdoor clothing should only be kept in the kitchen if there is suitable storage provided (eg a cupboard or locker).
  • There should be at least one sink, in many situations a double sink with integral draining boards is recommended. Sinks should have a supply of hot and cold water.
  • There must be a separate wash hand basin with hot and cold water which is used for washing hands only. It must also be supplied with soap (liquid antibacterial soap is best) and means of hand drying (ideally disposable paper towels). In older halls the use of one half of a double bowl sink as the hand wash basin is acceptable, but this is not ideal and would not be allowed in new premises.
  • All cutlery, crockery, equipment and surfaces with which food may come into contact must be kept clean and in good condition.
  • Suitably sited waste bins with lids must be provided, ideally pedal bins. Waste should not be allowed to accumulate in the kitchen or left overnight but should be transferred to dustbins with lids. Arrangements should be made for the regular disposal of waste.
  • It is not necessary to provide a fridge, but if one is provided, it should be kept clean and have a thermometer. It should be kept at a temperature below 8ºC (ideally between 3ºC to 5ºC) and the temperature checked regularly. It should be made clear to outside caterers that it is their responsibility to check the adequacy of the refrigeration prior to booking the hall.
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Kitchens where regular large scale catering is carried out will have to meet higher standards. These are likely to include powered ventilation, increased provision of sinks, fly screens etc. We are happy to give advice on these matters.

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Small areas provided with a sink and a kettle and intended for the preparation of drinks only should be kept clean but need not be provided with a wash hand basin.

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Most halls have a paid caretaker or cleaner. It is important to ensure that the food preparation areas are cleaned to an acceptable standard. Day-to-day cleaning is usually adequate but provision should be made for regular deep cleaning or ‘spring cleaning’ - for example of such areas as behind cookers, inside cupboards and walls. This is essential and should be done before the kitchen becomes obviously dirty. It may be necessary to organise volunteer working groups or for additional paid cleaning on a regular basis.

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Toilets must be provided. The wash hand basins should have hot and cold water, soap and means of hand drying. There must be an intervening space between the sanitary accommodation and the kitchen.

Many community halls acquire items which ‘may come in useful one day’ or are lost property. The kitchen should not be used for storing such items or other objects unconnected with food preparation.

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The law requires those responsible for organising events where food is consumed to be aware of the risks involved and to ensure that these risks are controlled.

If professional or outside caterers are used, they are required by law to have food hygiene training and to have adequate safety controls - if these caterers cannot provide evidence of having a food safety management system, you are within your rights to refuse them entry to your hall. If the hall is used by these caterers, it is important that the terms of hiring make it clear that ultimate responsibility for food safety rests with them.

With events organised by volunteers, it is important that those involved have a clear idea of the requirements of good hygienic practice and to ensure these are carried out.

If events take place regularly, even if only club or church members are involved, it is good practice to ensure that some people have had formal food hygiene training. Booklets giving guidance are available from the Environmental Health department.

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Other sources of information

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has produced some useful guidance and information sheets for standards in village halls.

Those wishing to obtain these documents may wish to contact ACRE who will be able to supply a publications order form, this is also available from the ACRE website.

ACRE can be contacted at:

Somerford Court
Somerford Road
Cirencester
Gloucestershire
GL7 1TW
Tel: 01285 653477 E-mail: acre@acre.org.uk

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An organisation called Community Matters has also produced a similar document that tends to be applied more in urban areas. The title of the document is Food Safety and Food Hygiene (Information Sheet No 11 - Revised January 1998.)

Anyone wishing to order this document can contact:

Community Matters
12 - 20 Baron Street
London
N1 9LL

Tel: 0207 837 7887

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Last updated: 18 January 2017 | Last reviewed: 18 January 2017