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Importance of Food Hygiene in a Care Home

Practising excellent food hygiene in a nursing home is paramount. Residents of a care home are often elderly and can be extremely vulnerable to poor food practices because age weakens the immune system and its ability to fight infection. This makes unsafe food practices detrimental to their health and safety. Catering staff within the residential care home must take the utmost care to ensure that cooking and preparation areas are kept clean and germ-free. They must adhere to the Food Safety Act 1990 to ensure that the food and drink they provide are handled, stored, prepared, and delivered in a way that meets the requirements of the act and ensures the health and safety of the care home residents.

What is good food hygiene?

Good food hygiene is a practice which includes good storage, food prep and cooking, to ensure that food is safe to consume. Good food hygiene guarantees that food has not been contaminated and is safe to eat. The goal of practising safe food hygiene is to minimise or remove food hazards through safe food processes.

Why is good food hygiene important in care homes?

Good food hygiene is always important but particular care should be taken in a care home to ensure the resident’s safety. Residents within a care home are typically elderly, frail, have a weaker immune system, have ongoing health problems or are more vulnerable to diseases. This makes them more likely to suffer from food poisoning and get ill as a consequence of poor food hygiene. Food poisoning can be a very serious illness and this type of infectious diseases is more likely to spread in care settings. It’s therefore vital to store, handle, prepare and present food in a hygienic environment to help prevent harmful bacteria from spreading and causing food poisoning.

Are care home kitchens inspected?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for inspecting care homes to ensure they are complying with food safety regulations. The CQC is an independent regulator of care homes which was established by the Health and Social Care Act 2008. They participate in frequent and unexpected visits to care homes to ensure they are providing care that is safe and effective. As part of their inspection, they assess the cleanliness of the care home and whether there are any potential hazards. The CQC inspector will check whether food preparation and storage areas are safe and sanitary and that the care home has an effective Food Safety Management System (FSMS) to ensure optimal food safety.

What are the main elements of food hygiene in care homes?

Preparation and Food Handling

Food handling includes any duty related to the preparation, storage or serving of food. In a care home, it is not just the chef that handles food, many members of the staff will be considered food handlers. It is paramount that anyone involved in handling food practices good hygiene to avoid cross-contamination. Examples of how to do this include:

  • Washing your hands and surfaces frequently.
  • Washing any utensils or crockery that were used for raw food.
  •  Colour-coding chopping boards and utensils for raw meat, seafood, poultry and cooked food.
  • Ensure every food handler is wearing the right protective clothing (e.g. hair net, apron or gloves).

Food storage and temperature control

Food safety guidelines have strict regulations regarding the temperatures that must be maintained during the different stages of the food process, including when food is being stored in the care home. The danger zone of food temperatures is between 8°C and 60°C. For example, the Food Safety Authority states that a refrigeration temperature of 8°C and below is ideal for ensuring the safety of food and preventing the growth of bacteria. By adhering to the temperature guidelines set out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), care homes can reduce the risk of the food being contaminated by harmful bacteria and ensure that the food is safe to eat. 

Correct storage of food is also paramount to ensure food safety. Examples of how to ensure food is correctly stored include following the storage instructions on the label, storing raw meats at the bottom of the fridge to prevent spillage and observing best before dates.

Allergens and special dietary requirements 

Care homes tailored care packages ensure that each resident’s requirements and needs are treated individually, including allergens and dietary requirements. Today’s care homes are well-versed in dietary requirements and allergens – and many care homes offer diets that cater to vegan, vegetarian, halal, and diabetic residents, among others. The care home will outline any allergies that a resident has in their resident care profile to ensure that they do not come into contact with these foods.

In a care home, the responsibility of looking after the food is primarily the duty of the kitchen staff or chef. However, the care home manager is also responsible, meaning it’s a team effort between the manager and catering staff to deliver high-quality, healthy food that has been prepared in a clean and hygienic environment and is safe for the consumption of the care home residents. It is of utmost importance that care home staff practice great food hygiene to ensure the resident’s safety.


We have care homes located across the Buckinghamshire county. Learn more about care homes nearest to you:
Care home Aylesbury
Care home Princes Risborough
Care home Chalfont St Peter
Care home Amersham
Care homes Slough
Care home Chesham
Care home Stoke
Burnham care homes
Care homes High Wycombe
Care homes Marlow