Feeling confident about the food your church provides is important to everyone in the kitchen – but with these simple suggestions, you can keep your congregation safe and satisfied
Providing tea and cakes after your services, running a community café or providing refreshments for events are all common activities for most churches. And while these all involve preparing and handling food, how much and for how many people varies from church to church. Those with larger kitchens may serve multitudes of people, while others may only dish up the occasional tea and biscuits. However, to prepare, sell or serve safe food that keeps your congregation happy, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
Delicious, safe food The first step to good food hygiene practice is ensuring food safety management systems are in place. These are methods to make sure hazards are controlled and reduced: this means addressing anything that could make the food you serve unsafe to eat. This includes harmful bacteria, which can be produced when food is kept out of the fridge for too long; and chemicals or foreign bodies getting into the food. The simplest way to avoid this is by keeping food away from cleaning products or broken pieces of packaging, as you naturally would at home. Or you could install a lockable COSHH cupboard, which will keep dangerous items securely out of the way.
Make sure you provide aprons for everyone spending time in the kitchen – not only does this protect the wonderful volunteers and staff from spills, but also the people enjoying your offerings. Just remember that these should only be worn in the food preparation area and removed before the person leaves the room.
Jewellery should also be removed before handling food – no one wants to find an earring in their soup! And equally, no one wants to lose one…
Sparkling clean MDF and other porous substances used in domestic, high-street kitchens degrade overtime, making it easier for them to absorb dirt and germs, and harder to clean. Steelplan’s steel worktops and units are designed to create a hygienic surface that don’t harbour germs, bugs and dirt, making them ideal for perfect cleaning and disinfecting. But it’s also worth bearing in mind that although bacteria is can be destroyed by running a cloth over surfaces, we suggest using disinfectants and products that contain antibacterial properties. Washing-up liquid is great for cleaning up after a Brownies cake sale, but not for destroying harmful bacteria from grubby hands! Just remember to use food-safe cleaning chemicals – for example, bleach should only be used for the floors as it can contaminate food prepared on your worktops.
Disinfection and cleaning are also important to avoid cross contamination between food or equipment, particularly with raw food. Just ask your volunteers to use different utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat food; to keep these foods separate in the fridge; and to wash their hands between handling different food types.
Ideally, all the people who handle food in your church kitchen should be trained for the work they do – this includes anyone who volunteers for coffee mornings and biscuit rounds. We recommend a basic food hygiene course (level 1 or 2), which are quick to complete online – your local council may also be happy to help should you need it.
For more information on how Steelplan’s bespoke semi-commercial kitchens can better prepare your church for serving safe food to your community, contact us on 0844 809 9186