The Food Standards Agency, in partnership with local authorities in England, are responsible for carrying out inspections of food businesses to check that they meet the requirements of food hygiene law. Every local authority handles childminder registrations and inspections in their own ways, which means that every childminder has a different experience.
Some childminders do not receive visits from their environmental health inspector – some have annual or 2 or 3 yearly inspections – others are sent a questionnaire to complete. As a rule, childminders are considered low risk food businesses but we do have to be registered – if you became a childminder after January 2014 Ofsted will have registered you automatically.
While food hygiene inspectors (enforcement officers) do have a legal right of entry onto food premises, they will usually make an appointment if they are intending to visit but if they have received a complaint they can come out without an appointment.
Childminders use the following guidance to help prepare for a food hygiene inspection – Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) for childminders. It is also good practice (not a requirement of the EYFS or any other statutory framework) to do a level 1 or 2 food hygiene and safety training course.
Before your inspection you should take the time to:
· Read through Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) for Childminders and make sure you have completed all the sections including the monthly diary – if you have an old copy of SFBB note that it was updated a few years ago and some of the pages might be different.
· Ensure your food preparation areas are clean – you don’t need to pull out your fridge or have someone in to clean your cooker but you do need to ensure fridge is clean, seals and handles are wiped etc.
· Check food storage areas including fridges and freezers and remove out-of-date food – if fridge or freezer temperatures change don’t forget to record it in your SFBB diary.
· Ensure cleaning equipment is appropriate for use – you need a child friendly, non-tainting spray for surfaces (check you know how long to leave it before wiping) and lots of cloths so they can be washed regularly.
· Review waste disposal facilities and think about where nappies are disposed of during the day – you should risk assess regularly (this does not need to be in writing) to ensure you are following best practice procedures.
· If washing machines are kept in the kitchen consider how you keep surfaces clean from cross contamination of dirty washing – your inspector understands that you live and work from your home but they might want to discuss how you keep the kitchen clean with you.
· Consider when and why you might wear gloves and be ready to talk to your environmental health officer about this.
· Check how raw and cooked foods are separated in the kitchen and fridge – best practice advice is in the ‘food storage’ section to you SFBB for childminders pack.
· Find your food hygiene training certificate to share with your inspector - it is not a requirement of the EYFS to do this training but it is recommended.
Your Environmental Health Officer will –
- Show you identification
- Know the rules in SFBB for childminders – if they don’t know the rules or they ask you to do things that are not required in SFBB for childminders, be ready to challenge them by asking, ‘Can you show me where this is a requirement please’…
- Ask questions to check you know food hygiene rules for childminders.
- Talk to you about your food storage and preparation areas and give you tips to improve what you are doing.
- Give feedback at the end of the inspection and maybe a grading (or maybe not – it varies depending on your local authority).
- Give you a reasonable time to make changes if you fail to comply with the statutory requirements – they do have the power to shut you down if they believe there is an immediate risk to health.
Food inspectors will usually look at the kitchen and any areas of the house (or shed / garage) you use for food storage and preparation such as fridges and pantries. If you wash your hands in a different room to the kitchen they will want to look in there as well to check you have single use towels, antibacterial soap and a nail brush.
Things your inspector might ask – and some suggested responses:
- Daily fridge temperature records – childminders are not required to record fridge or freezer temperatures – we use SFBB for childminders and it says to record if there is a problem on the diary sheets. Here is the fridge temperature probe we use when we do our daily visual check.
- Food temperature records – childminders are not required to do record cooked food temperatures – we use SFBB for childminders and it says to check food is ‘very hot (steaming)’ before serving. Here is the probe we use when we check hot meals are hot enough to serve – after each use (to prevent cross contamination) we clean the probe thoroughly and allow it to air dry – it is calibrated annually.
- Hand towels in the bathroom – hand towels can breed cross contamination of bodily fluids. It is best practice to have single use towels / flannels or paper towels / kitchen roll. If you have single use towels or flannels you need to hot wash them.
- Dot dating food – childminders use SFBB for childminders and it is not a requirement to dot date food. However, food that is pre-cooked and placed in the freezer should be labelled with the date it was cooked so that it can be tracked back via receipts and to ensure it is not stored for longer than stated on the freezer instructions.
- Lunch bag storage – if children bring lunch bags any items that need to be kept cold are taken out of the bags, labelled and placed in the fridge OR bags contain a freezer block and are kept in a cool place in the house until lunchtime. Note that you check regularly to make sure parents are sending the freezer block and have spares if needed.
- Allergens – it is a requirement of EU law that childminders ensure children who are allergic to any foods or drinks are not given them – you might, for example, show your inspector a list of allergens displayed in the kitchen cupboard (for confidentiality). Explain to your inspector that children’s parents are given details each day about what their child has eaten and you have information about allergens available for them.
- Babies bottles – talk about how you sterilise them; they should be made up following NHS guidelines.
- Nappies in the kitchen – best practice is not to take nappies through the kitchen because it is a food area but as this is not a requirement it can only be an advisory. You might, for example, have a lidded nappy bin (sealed to stop children getting in it) in the playroom and empty it to an outside bin at the end of the day.
- Pets – you need to show that you keep pets and pet food out of the kitchen and off food surfaces. Pets need to be fed in rooms other than the kitchen and children should not have access to their water bowls or food.
- Tea towels – are not popular with food hygiene officers if used to dry cutlery, crockery, pans etc. Air drying is the preferred method because tea towels hold bacteria. You might, however, show that you have a lot of towels and hot wash them immediately after each use.
- Wiping surfaces – use antibacterial spray and a clean single use cloth or paper towel. Wiping cloths like tea towels are not popular because of the risk of cross contamination so they are best avoided. If they are used, hot wash them after each use. When using spray, read the bottle and know how long to leave it on the surface before wiping it off – it varies depending on the brand.
- Menus – food hygiene do not normally ask to see menus but we need them to comply with EYFS requirements so it shouldn’t be a problem if they ask to see what you are cooking for the children.
- Food receipts – Safer food Better Business for childminders states, ‘It is a legal requirement to keep a record of what food products you have bought, who you bought them from, the quantity and date. Usually the easiest way to do this is to keep all your receipts, even for small amounts. This is so that – if there is a safety problem with food you have provided – you or an enforcement officer from your local authority can check the details of the food. Keep these records in a way that makes it easy for you or an enforcement officer to check them. There is no set time for how long you need to keep these but as a guide keep them until you are sure the food they refer to has been consumed by the children, without any problems’. Your inspector might ask to see them – or they might not! As I said, every inspection is slightly different.
- Chopping boards - childminders are not required to have separate chopping boards (or knives) – we use SFBB for childminders and it is not included in the requirements. However, having said that, it is best practice to use different boards for raw fish (blue), salad and fruit (green) and raw meat (red), cooked meats (yellow), vegetables (brown) and diary (white). Some providers have separate knives but you can talk about how you wash them thoroughly after each use.
- Separate cleaning cloths or mops for different jobs – childminders are not required to have separate cleaning cloths or mops for different jobs – we use SFBB for childminders and it is not required. However, having said that, you might want to use a separate mop for your bathroom and kitchen floors because of the risk of cross contamination.
After inspection you might – or might not – receive a grade. It is not a legal requirement to display your grade if given one. Obviously if you do receive a high grade you might want to display it and put it on your website or Facebook page as an advertisement that you have done well during your food hygiene inspection.
If you work with staff the Eyfs 2017 states in requirement 3.48 that all those responsible for preparing and serving food should be trained and your food hygiene officer might advise you to have a HACCP file. You will find more information about how to put together a HACCP file in e-book 37 'HACCP' on my Knutsford Childminding website.
I hope this helps! Any questions? Please ask!
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