Keep Kids Fed with the Summer Food Scheme

Small food businesses – local cafes, restaurants and pubs – are at the heart of their communities. They understand their customers and provide more than just food and drink: a meeting place, a listening ear, a social routine.

During the pandemic, many local food businesses became a source of help to those in need, and with the school summer holidays looming, they look set to do the same again.

The Safer Food Group offers a package of support to all of those food businesses that offer special deals to families during the summer holidays. We’ve created a set of free marketing materials and a logo, to help you advertise your ‘Summer Food Scheme’ offer to your community. And to help with your business costs, we’d like to offer free Level 2 Food Hygiene Courses* to any company or organisation who puts a Summer Food Scheme in place.

To use our marketing materials – a poster, logo and social media image – click on the images below, download the resources and add your own details. Use them to advertise your scheme online and in your outlet.

And to claim your Level 2 Food Hygiene courses, complete this form, with evidence of your Summer Food Scheme (such as a link to your SM or website, or photos of your advertising). Organisations offering a Summer Food Scheme will be able to claim up to 5 course codes, for Safer Food Group online training courses, to distribute to their teams. Course codes are valid for use within a year.

Don’t forget to use the #SummerFoodScheme when posting on social media – and tag us too, we’d love to follow your stories!

*Free course codes available only as described, 5 courses available per business / organisation. Course codes can be distributed by the applicant to employed staff or volunteers associated with the organisation, allowing them to undertake required learning and exam for Level 2 Food Hygiene award. The Safer Food Group reserve the right to withdraw offer of free codes if applicants appear not to offer a genuine, value added offer in keeping with the Summer Food Scheme principles.

Further information

The Safer Food Group Training

Food Safety Top Tips #5: Safer Foods for little ones

Bright image of banana and bowl of food for a child
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash        

Learning about a range of new foods is great for the development of young bodies and brains but exploring safely should always be first priority.

There are some really well known food safety tips for under 5s, including:

  •               Cut small fruits such as grapes, berries and tomatoes lengthways, then into quarters
  •               Steam or boil firm vegetables like carrots, yams or broccoli
  •               Remove bones from meat and fish
  •               Don’t give whole nuts

But did you know that foods that foods such as bread, jelly and marshmallows could also could create choking hazards? We’ve created the free ‘Guide to Early Years Catering’, for advice about safe foods for little ones, nutrition for under 5s, menu planning and much more

Food Safety Top Tips #4: The 5 second rule

A packet of broken biscuits dropped onto the floor
Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash

Everyone knows the 5 second rule – as long as you pick it up in less than 5 seconds, it’s safe to eat food you’ve dropped on the floor.

Let’s set this one straight – that’s outrageous! Good food hygiene is all about keeping dangerous pathogens out of the food we eat. And however hard we try, no-one’s floor is genuinely so clean you could eat your dinner off it. So, don’t rely on the 5 second rule.

There are lots of great rules you can use in your kitchen though. It’s worthwhile knowing the key facts and figures; and if you work in a commercial kitchen, you’ll need to work these into your HACCP plan.

Some effective rules are:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for 2 minutes before each new kitchen task
  • Avoid the pathogenic danger zone of 8-60 oC
  • Cook food to 70 oC for at least 2 minutes

For more info, have a look at our Level 2 HACCP course, and learn about setting up a Food Safety Management System for your kitchen

Food Safety Top Tips #3: The Killer in your Kitchen

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

What’s the most deadly tool you use in your kitchen?

Kitchen knife? No

Mandolin? It’s tricky to handle, but no.

The kitchen mixer with the dodgy electrical cable? We don’t recommend using this one – but it’s not as deadly as….

Your mobile phone!

Repeated studies have shown that most mobile phones carry a zoo full of germs, including nasties such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and E.coli. But we scroll without thinking in between cooking tasks, running the risk that we spread these pathogens through our food to the people we cook for.

Ideally, to cut the risk of cross-contamination, keep your mobile phone out of the kitchen, but if that doesn’t work, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly every time you pick it up. To learn more about the hidden dangers lurking in your kitchen, have a look at our Level 2 Food Hygiene Course

Food Safety Top Tips #2: Can I freeze food past the use by date?

Image of frozen berries
Illustrates article by thesaferfoodgroup.com describing safety regarding freezing food
Photo by Devin Rajaram on Unsplash

With rising food costs and threats of supply issues, we’re all becoming increasingly aware of food waste. So making best use of your freezer makes good sense.

But what are the rules on freezing food? What are the deadlines you must stick to in order to keep food safe?

Freezing food prolongs its use by pausing the effects of harmful bacteria – most bacteria cannot be destroyed by the freezing process. Use-by dates indicate food safety; a product that has passed its use-by date could already be unsafe to eat so you cannot freeze food after the use-by date has passed.

When freezing foods, use information on the product label to work out how long it can be frozen. Defrost in the fridge, then cook thoroughly using safe times and temps and eat within 24 hours. Have a look at our Level 2 Food Hygiene course for more info about the rules for cooking safely

Early Years Catering update – Nursery Milk Scheme

What is the Nursery Milk Scheme?

Early Years settings can claim reimbursement for milk, under the Government’s Nursery Milk Scheme. This applies in England, Wales and Scotland, although the scheme is known as Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme in Scotland, and extends to snacks.

What EY settings can apply for this scheme?

With a few exceptions, the settings that can apply for this scheme include:

  • Registered childminders
  • Registered day care providers
  • Local authorities providing day care
  • Those providing day care to children under 5 years in schools
  • Those providing day care in a nursery or crèche for children (under 5 years)

Which children are eligible for free milk, and how much?

Children under 5 years who attend the setting for two or more hours are entitled to 1/3 of a pint of milk each day they attend the setting.

Where can I find more information?

Have a look at the Scheme website for further information: https://www.nurserymilk.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions

I want to know more about catering in an early years setting….

Have a look at our free guide – it covers menu planning, food safety, hygiene and allergens, and provides links to some great free resources for early years cooks.

Click here to access our free resource for Early Years caterers

Food industry trends – buying closer to home

Market vegetable stall copyright 2021 www,thesaferfoodgroup.com

According to 2021 research, British consumers are increasingly looking for British produce; great news for the environment and the economy.

Unsurprisingly, following food shortages in 2020 and 2021, savvy British consumers have been considering alternatives to their supermarket shop.

As well as supply chain issues, consumers have been driven to local producers by concerns about quality, citing a deeper trust in British farmed goods than in imported foods. High profile news stories regarding imported meat containing high levels of antibiotics and chlorine have forced consumers to think more carefully about food quality and production and processing methods.

And environmental concerns have also led shoppers to think about buying local – farms shops and markets have proved a great way to buy direct from producers, as well as providing genuinely seasonal foods.

Record breaking consumer numbers buy British food

This article published by Speciality Food Magazine cites OnePoll research that claims, ‘73% of the public often or always looking specifically for British food when shopping’.

It also revealed a strong level of support for British farming and its quality standards, with the vast majority of respondents wanting trade deals to protect British farmers from being undercut and welfare standards of imported meat to match that of domestically produced food.

The unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic highlighted the need for more secure supply chains – and local businesses responded to support their communities. Producers found creative ways to get their food directly to consumers, through farm shops, co-operatives and box schemes. The benefits of open air markets became clear as a safer shopping environment.

Rising success of the small food business

The economic situation continues to be tough for some food businesses, especially those without a corporate safety net to keep the cash flow going. However, the pandemic has demonstrated how agile and adaptable small businesses have been and continue to be as the rules and landscape shift on a monthly business

Some great examples of small business agility have been:

  • Food retailers taking their sales out into their community, using church halls, delivery services, or even repurposed ice cream vans to get supplies to vulnerable people
  • Businesses recognising and solving community problems – including the micro brewery who provided a reciprocal collection service for food bank items donated by customers of their delivery service. Community engagement has been a strong theme for a lot of food businesses, giving them the opportunity to really get to know and build relationships with their customers, and there is no doubt a number of these initiatives will continue and thrive once the threat of the pandemic has lessened.
  • Artisan producers joining forces to create ‘lockdown luxury’ boxes – sharing storage, packing and delivery resources to reduce cost and environmental impact and increase customer base

Small businesses can suffer from higher proportional overheads, without the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies. However, they often have the benefit of entrepreneurial spirit, an adaptable and loyal staff body and the agility to change direction quickly and make change happen. In adverse times, these skills will continue to be invaluable and as circumstances develop, the rise of small businesses is very welcome .

Useful links

Food safety training from The Safer Food Group

Produce and Provide – network of local farms and producers across the UK accessible to consumers

National Market Traders Federation – supporting market traders

Love your local market campaign hosted by NABMA

Support organisations for catering and hospitality workers

We know that life in hospitality and catering can be tough. Long hours, unsociable shifts, tricky customers… just some of the reasons your job can leave you feeling blue. When it becomes hard to leave the work stress at work, it’s time to talk to someone.

We’ve created a list of organisations that can help. Feel free to add comments if you work with or have sought help from an organisation you’d like to add to this list

The Drinks Trust is the community for the drinks industry, offering support and services to help its community thrive.

Hospitality Action work to provide hospitality workers with financial, physical and psychological support to help them overcome adversity and get back to work as quickly as possible.

The Care Workers Charity aims to advance the financial, professional and mental wellbeing of social care workers by making grants, signposting to resources and providing access to services.

The Burnt Chef Project is a non-profit social enterprise fully committed to making the hospitality profession healthier and more sustainable.

Hospitality Health is a Scottish organisation that helps those who are in need of support, by providing wellbeing advice and signposting organisations that can help. We hope we can make a difference, even to a few individuals.

Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

Important Links

RSPH – Mental Health in Hospitality

NHS – Every Mind Matters

The Safer Food Group

Calorie menu labelling – our free guide

What does your food business need to do to meet April 2022 calorie labelling regulations?

Calorie labelling regulations logo

The government has announced that calories will be labelled on menus and food labels in certain ‘out-of-home food businesses’ from April 2022. Out of home refers to business that prepare food for immediate consumption by its customers, such as cafes, restaurants, pubs and take-aways.

What businesses does this affect?

The new legislation means that large businesses with 250 or more employees in England, including cafes, restaurants and takeaways, will need to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drinks that are prepared for customers. In some circumstances, franchisees are deemed to be a part of their franchisor’s business and therefore employee numbers are calculated across the whole business.

When does it come into force?

The legislation comes into force from 6th April 2022, for the businesses outlined above

How must calorie information be displayed?

Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels

Businesses are also required to display the statement ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’ on their menus where food is chosen from a menu, or otherwise on a label where it can be seen by customers when making their food choices. Children’s menus are exempt from displaying the statement referencing daily calorie needs as the calorie requirements of a child vary with age and are less than that of an adult

Why is calorie labelling legislation being brought in?

The measures, which form part of the government’s wider strategy to tackle obesity, are planned to help to ensure people are able to make more informed, healthier choices when it comes to eating food out or ordering takeaways

When must smaller businesses comply with the new calorie labelling legislation?

At the present time, no plans to introduce this legislation into smaller food businesses have been announced

What are the penalties for non compliance?

This has yet to be announced

Are there any exemptions?

Specific exemptions applying to food include:

  • • Temporary menu items on sale for less than 30 consecutive days and a total of 30 days in any year.
  • • Food which is ‘off menu’ and made available or prepared differently to the way it is normally prepared, at the request of the customer.
  • • Alcoholic drinks over 1.2% alcohol by volume.
  • • Condiments which are provided to be added by the consumer (not including condiments which are part of the food served).

The Regulations also specify exemptions for food which is served:

  • • On an international aircraft, train or ferry to or from a country that is not part of the UK.
  • • By a charity in the course of its charitable activities.
  • • At an institution providing education to children under 18 years.
  • • To patients (not for payment) at a hospital or other medical establishment or to residents of a care home or other social care institution.

Anything else we need to know?

At the moment, guidance is still being written. As updates are available, The Safer Food Group will update and add to this post. Our training courses are regularly updated to capture the latest relevant food safety regulations – check out www.thesaferfoodgroup.com for more info. If you would like to learn more about calories and menu planning, have a look at our Level 2 Nutrition course.

Natasha’s Law in health and care settings

What does your setting need to do?

The UK Food Information Amendment – Natasha’s Law – came into force in October 2021. An important development in helping prevent the serious effects of food allergies, this law amendment deals with labelling products that have been packed on premises ready for sale. It was brought into force to strengthen the 2014 Food Information to Consumers legislation, and followed a period of dedicated campaigning by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically lost her life after eating a sandwich containing the allergen sesame. At the time, foods prepared in house and packaged for later sale were not required to be labelled individually.

What is Natasha’s Law and who does it affect?

Natasha’s law applies to any business or food operation that is preparing, packing and then later selling food from the same premises, or from a mobile stall or vehicle. This includes: cafes and coffee shops, takeaway and fish & chip restaurants, sandwich shops, farm shops, as well as work, school and hospital canteens. Voluntary and charity organisations who undertake fundraising events such as bake sales will also need to consider how they package their goods and whether they need to apply the new rules.

How does Natasha’s Law apply in a care or health setting?

Within care and health settings many foods are prepared and served directly to residents and patients – the new rules do not apply to these foods, although they will be covered by existing food safety regulations, including those relating to allergens. Some settings prepare, sell and distribute meals to customers off-site (e.g. ‘Meals-on-wheels’ services); these will typically be covered by regulations for distance selling of food. Where settings prepare and pre-package food for sale to customers – for instance to visitors to their café or restaurant – they will need consider Natasha’s Law and how to apply the correct labelling to those foods.

When does it come into force?

Natasha’s law was created in September 2019, and came into force in October 2021 throughout the UK.

What foods are covered by Natasha’s law?

Any food which is Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS); that means prepared in-house, wrapped or placed in packaging, ready for the customer. This includes food that customers select themselves, as well as pre-wrapped items that are kept behind a counter.

What are PPDS foods?

Examples of PPDS items include:

  • Sandwiches, pies, burgers, ready meals or cakes/baked goods prepared and packaged by a food business before the consumer selects them
  • Foods prepared and packaged and sold at a market stall
  • Wrapped deli counter goods such as cheese and meats, and boxed salads placed on a refrigerated shelf prior to sale
  • Freshly made pizza or boxed salads from a supermarket deli counter which are packed on site and refrigerated prior to sale
  • Mixed bags of sweets which are made up, packaged and sold on the same premises or from a mobile unit such as an ice cream van.

For further help, use this tool created by the FSA.

What must we do?

All PPDS products will need to be clearly labelled with the name of the food and a full list of all ingredients. Any named allergens (from the 14 named allergens list) must be highlighted within the ingredients list, for example by printing them in bold, italics or a different colour. An exception to this rules is products with a surface area of less than 10cm2 – if this applies to your products, have a look at the FSA website to understand your responsibilties.

What are the penalties for non compliance?

Businesses failing to follow the new rules could face a fine of up to £5,000 per offence. But more importantly, the damage to the reputation of your business if a serious allergy incident occurs is almost impossible to calculate.

What else should I think about?

The death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse highlights the importance of food allergen awareness within all food businesses and operations. As well as considering the physical labelling requirements, food businesses should also take this opportunity to think about their production process and staff training implications. It is vital that your food operation has a clear allergen policy, which allows both staff and customers to understand any risks that are present to allergy sufferers. Staff must fully understand any processes that they are expected to undertake when creating meals that fulfil any allergy-free claims you make, and those who communicate with customers must be able to do so truthfully and confidently.

All Safer Food Group training courses that contain allergy awareness advice include guidance on Natasha’s Law – and our all new Level 2 Allergy Awareness course for food handlers has been entirely updated and relaunched in September 2021, to comprehensively cover this subject.

Whilst Natasha’s law makes information more readily available and therefore easier for staff to communicate accurate ingredients information, the key message for all staff in food preparation is the importance of consistency in and clear communication of ingredients and recipes. Allergen training, whether in-house or with certified training courses, is a vital step in keeping your customers, staff and your business safe.