Food Safety and Environmental Health
All childminders have to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations and we have produced the only online training course written specifically for registered childminders which has been validated by South Northants Health Protection Team. On completion of this course, you will be able to print off your certificate. This online course is available to purchase in our shop.
When childminders register with Ofsted, they are automatically registered with their Local Authority as a food business too. Local Environmental Health officers can visit all childminders premises to check that food safety procedures are in place.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have produced a pack ‘Safer Food, Better Business for Childminders’ to help you ensure that the food and drink that you give to babies and children is safe. This self-reflective style workbook will help you meet the regulations and identify any changes that you might need to make. The Food Standards Agency website has advice for registered childminders about food safety.
For any questions contact your local Environmental Health Department.
Information about Food Allergens
All food businesses, including childminders, have a legal responsibility to provide correct allergen information about the ingredients in meals and/or snacks you provide. There is no set way of providing this information and you can choose a method that suits your childminding practice.
There are 14 allergens that you need to declare if they are present in foods you provide:
- Celery - includes celery stalks, leaves and seeds and celeriac
- Cereals containing gluten - includes wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan wheat/Kamut), rye, barley and oats
- Crustaceans-includes crabs, lobster, prawns and scampi
- Eggs - found in many products including cake, meat, mayonnaise, pasta etc.
- Fish-found in salad dressings, sauces, stock cubes, pizza etc.
- Lupin - includes lupin seeds and flour
- Milk - found in butter, cheese, cream, milk powders and yoghurt
- Molluscs - includes mussels, land snails, squid and whelks
- Mustard - includes liquid mustard, mustard powder and mustard seeds
- Nuts - includes almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia or Queensland nuts
- Peanuts - also found in groundnut oil and peanut flour
- Sesame seeds and oil
- Soya - can be found in bean curd, edamame beans, miso paste, textured soya protein, soya flour or tofu
- Sulphur dioxide - this is often used as a preservative in dried fruit, meat products, soft drinks and vegetables as well as in wine and beer
What the regulations mean to you as a childminder:
The children that you look after are a vulnerable group who would not be expected to ask what allergens are in their food. You must therefore have a system in place to ensure that children with an allergy or intolerance are not provided with food containing that allergen.
The Early Years Foundation Stage 3.47 states that providers must obtain information about children’s food allergies and special health requirements, so you will have this information already.
In addition to this information, and your system to ensure children with allergies/intolerances are not provided with food containing those allergens you must tell your customers (and for childminders, this will be parents/carers rather than the children themselves), that you have information about any allergens contained in any of the foods you provide. You can provide some of this information verbally - however you must signpost parents/carers to how they obtain this information. This signposting needs to be in writing. To purchase a poster you can use on your childminding notice board or your parent portfolio, to signpost parents to the information, visit our Childminding UK shop.
For new parents/carers you could include information in your parent portfolio or parent pack that tells parents they can ask you if/when they wish to know the contents of the foods you provide.
For existing parents/carers you will need to add this information to your newsletters or website if available; or you could prepare a letter to parents or put a sign on your parent notice board if you have one.
When parents ask you to tell them what allergens are in the meals/snacks you provide, you will need to have this information to hand. You can tell parents verbally, but the information does need to be held in a format:
- that can be checked by others (verifiable)
- that can be confirmed as accurate
- that ensures the same information is given every time (consistent)
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has devised a menu matrix which is a simple table that you could use to complete, where you simply tick if the food contains allergens. This matrix would be held by you to refer to when parents/carers ask for information. It is important that when completing this that you carefully read all labels on foods that you use that have been bought packaged such as sandwich filler, pasta sauces etc. so that you can be sure that your information is complete and correct. When you introduce new foods or different ingredients you will need to make sure you update your records of allergen information. The FSA document has space for you to add a review date for this purpose. NCA has been advised that if you are serving foods that contain cereals or nuts, you must state which cereal or nut you are serving. (Example: you may look after a child with coeliac disease who is allergic to gluten. This child may have intolerance to wheat but not to rye, so you need to stipulate which cereal you are serving).
It is also important that you ensure that you store and prepare all foods correctly to avoid cross contamination. Information about this is included in our Food Hygiene training.
If you would like to read more about the new requirements, visit the FSA website.
Food Hygiene online training
This poster is available as a download or printed copy and can be used on your childminding notice board to invite parents to request allergen information. It has been approved by Trading Standards as suitable for the purpose.
In 2015 we at Childminding UK teamed up with Early Years Nutrition specialists Grub4Life and sucessfuly applied for a lottery grant so we could offer training and resources written specifically for childminders. Grub4life have a long track record in the area of children’s nutrition. They have campaigned to improve the standards of food served to children in childcare and developed bespoke nutrition training for nursery cooks, managers and childcare professionals. This project has been all about giving you the knowledge, skills and practical resources to be confident in everything you do around food.
We are proud that we are now qualified to offer: -
- Bespoke online nutrition training
- Food and Nutrition manual for childminders containing everything you need to know about children's food and nutrition including key nutrients, nutritional guidelines, menu planning, food allergies and intolerances and special diets
- Recipe Manual for childminders containing over 60 nutritionally analysed, tried and tested recipes. Each recipe provides guidance on any food allergens which may be contained in the dish and how to adapt the recipe to remove them.
Nigel Denby from Grub4Life says:
Childminding UK are a critical resource supporting thousands of Childminders across the UK. It was my privilege to work the Childminding UK team who care so much about getting it right. Childminders are so often overlooked so I was particularly pleased to develop nutrition advice and practical resources specifically for these fantastic childcare professionals Nigel Denby- Dietitian, author and broadcaster
Claiming free milk
Did you know you may be able to claim free milk for children on your care?
Children who are eligible to receive milk
- Children under 5 years old who attend an eligible setting for 2 hours or more may receive 189ml (1/3 pint) of milk each day, free of charge
- Babies aged under 12 months may receive powdered infant formula made up to 189ml (1/3 pint) each day, free of charge
In order to claim, you must register with the Nursery Milk Reimbursement Unit (NMRU) Once registered you will have an online account which you will use to claim.
Find out more and complete the registration process by visiting The Nursery Milk Scheme Website.
Resources and Guidance
Public Health England and Action for Children have both produced resources for early years setting to use to help encourage young children to develop healthy eating patterns they will use for the whole of their lives.
Foundation Years have bought together some of the guidance from a number of other organisations, including the Eat Better Start Better guidance which is available to download or purchase as a hard copy. There are also fact sheets available to download:
Catering for special dietary requirements
Healthy packed lunches for early years
Producing and sharing allergen information
Promoting and supporting healthy eating
Public Health England have produced example menus and guidance that are available on the Gov.uk website
The government has also produced accompanying infographics to go with the early years menus which can be downloaded from the Foundation Years website
The Change4Life campaign aims to help families make small changes to improve their diet and fitness. Their website contains lots of fun ideas and activities to help children stay healthy.