We would advise all churches to contact your local Environmental Health Department for advice on food hygiene regulations. Most local authorities are able to offer relevant guidance leaflets and can also highlight appropriate training courses.
The legal requirements will vary depending on the extent to which food is handled on your premises and how often activities include an element of catering. Food hygiene regulations apply whether or not a charge is made for refreshments. Some churches will need to register with their local Environmental Health Department some will not. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently published ‘Community and charity food provision - guidance on the application of EU food hygiene law’. The guidance offers two examples which will be of particular interest to churches where the FSA suggests that food provision is unlikely to require registration with the local authority:
• ‘A one-off event such as a church or school fete, or a street party is deemed not to have sufficient ‘continuity’. However, organisers of large community events are advised by the FSA to contact their local authority for practical advice. Where several large events might be organised within a year, especially with complex food safety controls, then a ‘degree of organisation’ could be involved which might trigger a need for registration.
• Daily small-scale provision of low-risk foods by charity volunteers is not deemed to have a’ degree of organisation’ as it is low-risk and small-scale provision. However, it does have ‘continuity’ and registration would be necessary if complex food safety controls are required or high-risk foods are served or if food is served to vulnerable people’.
The FSA has a useful page with training information here and we recommend that you consult this and their YouTube channel to find appropriate training.
If you need help finding an appropriate course, please contact Pam Kerley.