Food Safety in the Canteen (non-members)

Even though your canteen may be not-for-profit or staffed mostly by volunteers, you still need to abide by all the policies and regulations surrounding food safety.

What you need to know

From 1 September 2015, school canteens in NSW only have to notify their local council that they are running a food business. Previously, canteens also needed to inform the NSW Food Authority – this is no longer required.

Canteens registered as a food business will have regular inspections by their local council. This comes at a cost, but you can request that the local council waives this fee. Your local council makes a final decision regarding the fee, here’s a template for a letter you can send them.
Letter for Council Inspection

NSW School canteen staff do NOT require any food safety training, but it is highly recommended that they undergo some sort of training. Members of HKA can access food safety training that is specific to the school canteen setting via this link. Plus, Food Standards Australia New Zealand have created this short and straightforward sheet which you can print out and fold into a brochure ready for volunteers to read.

Food cooked at home

The canteen is responsible for the sale of safe food, so any food sold must fully comply with the Food Safety Standards legislation. The canteen should not accept food from sources that do not comply with food safety standards, such as food brought from home, because you can be held liable for poisoning or contamination. 

Any persons preparing food at home for sale in the canteen must be registered as a food business. Talk to your local council about clearing your home kitchen for the production of food to sell in the canteen. Food brought in from home is also not covered by most P&C insurance or worker’s compensation insurance.

The only case in which the school is exempt from regulations and legislation is if the food is not for sale; however, the school should still exercise a duty of care.

Remember, unless the local council clears your home kitchen and you are registered as a food business, you should not bring in food from home to sell at the school. This includes foods sold for fundraising or charity – they must still comply with all aspects of food safety standards.

Become a member to download food safety templates for your canteen and to do the Free I’m alert Training Course