What is more important than the health and wellbeing of your students and staff? Your catering function will be a central feature of your school and is always an emotive subject. Whether in-house or contracted out, your school has a responsibility to demonstrate due diligence by ensuring your catering provision complies with all legislation and is operating to a high level of food safety.
The Food Standards Agency advises that it is good practice to carry out an independent food safety audit on an annual basis as the most effective way for you to ensure legal compliance and evidence good working practices. They also publish food hygiene ratings on their website so anyone can check out the rating for all catering and hospitality outlets including your school.
So what does this mean to your school?
If your catering provision is operated in-house
An independent and formally documented audit covering food safety and hygiene practice forms an important part of your due diligence process. It reduces the risk of legal action for non-compliance as well as reducing risk of food contamination and food poisoning.
Other positives include enhanced employee involvement, better understanding of your food safety system (HACCP) and increased awareness of food safety issues and responsibilities resulting in a safer working environment.
If your catering is contracted out
It is standard practice to carry out independent annual food safety audits and a number of catering contractors carry out their own audits. If you check your catering contract, you may well find a cost for this service included in the price. The due diligence on your part is ensuring that you check the audit has been done each year, see the results and ensure any remedial works are carried out.
It is not commonly known that it is your choice whether you have the audit provided via your catering contractor or whether you source an external audit from an independent company for a completely unbiased picture of your school catering operation. You will usually find the independent option much better value for money.
Julie Bowen is a director of Resolution FM providing specialist food safety, facilities and project management services to independent schools.