Healthy Eating, Allergies and Food Hygiene

The information, support and training available on this page is to enable the organisation and named health and safety competent person to meet their legal responsibilities around food safety.

Healthy Eating

A healthy balanced diet and regular exercise are essential for young children's health and wellbeing. Eating habits are developed early in life so healthy eating at childcare setting and home is very important for young children.

Where children are provided with meals, snacks and drinks, they must be healthy, balanced and nutritious.

Fresh drinking water must be available and accessible at all times.

The DfE has published a Healthy eating guidance for the early years sector which includes example menus and useful information for early years settings to help show how they can meet the Early Years Foundation Stage welfare requirement to provide ‘healthy, balanced and nutritious’ meals for children aged 6 months to 4 years.

Access the DfE’s Healthy eating guidance which has example menus developed with nutrition experts to support early years providers.


Healthy Start

Healthy Start is a NHS means-tested scheme for low- income pregnant women and young children, providing vitamins and a pre- paid card with money which can be used to purchase healthy foods (fruit, vegetables, milk) to support basic nutrition. It is available to pregnant women and children under 4 years old who are in receipt of qualifying benefits. Pregnant women are entitled to £4.25 / week in pregnancy and parents receive £8.50 per week for children under 12 months and £4.25 per week for children under 4.  Families that have a healthy start card can also collect free vitamins for their child from any of the family hubs in Walthamforest.

More details of the scheme: Healthy Start | London Borough of Waltham Forest

To apply for the scheme please visit: Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start) - NHSBSA


Before a child is admitted to the setting, the provider must also obtain information about any special dietary requirements, preferences, and food allergies that the child has, and any special health requirements.

Providers must record and act on information from parents and carers about a child's dietary needs.

Allergen labelling law changed in 2014. With the law, there are 14 major allergens which must be identified to parents/carers if they are provided in the food you offer to children. For more information and guidance, as well as free online allergen training, please visit the Food Standards Agency's website.

The Allergen checklist for food business provides advice on providing allergen information and avoiding cross-contamination in a food business for managers, kitchen staff and front of house servers

Registering as a Food Business

As a childcare provider, if you choose to provide food on premises (which includes preparing food such as sandwiches, fruit and snacks), then you will need to register as a food business with LBWF. Registration is free and includes a visit by the Environmental Health Officers from the Food Safety Team to ensure your premises meet the requirements issued by the Food Standards Agency.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a Safer food, better business guidance, a Food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations for small businesses.

If you are planning to start up a childminder business that provides food as part of your service, you do not need to register separately as a food business with your local authority as this will happen automatically when you register with Ofsted.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a Safer food, better business for childminders, a food safety management pack for registered childminders or child carers on domestic premises who usually provide meals and drinks for the children in their care for. 

Providers will also find the Safer food better business for caterers which provides food safety management guidance for small catering businesses. 

Early Years & Childcare providers can find further FSA guidance and resources on registering/setting up as a food business below:

Food Poisoning

Registered providers must notify Ofsted of any food poisoning affecting two or more children that are looked after on the childcare premises.

Notification must be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but in any event within 14 days of the incident. A registered provider, who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with this requirement, commits an offence.

Food Hygiene Training

If you prepare food in your childcare setting it is important that you have a food safety and hygiene qualification. 

Here are some training providers that offer Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene Course which supports early years practitioners providing food for children in their setting

  1. PACEY

  2. National Day Nurseries Association (NDA)

  3. Chartered Institute of Environmental Health 

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also offers free online food safety training courses for businesses which includes:

  1. Allergen training 
  2. Labelling training 

Food Safety Business Guidance

Here, providers can access downloadable guidance documents and links to resources.

  • Food Safety Opening and Closing Checks - A checklist guidance document on Food Safety Opening and Closing Checks 
  • Premises Cleanliness and Personal Hygiene - Guidance on how to clean equipment and surfaces to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading onto food can be found in the cleaning effectively in your business guidance. In the Personal Hygiene guidance, it provides guidance on what your staff must do when handling food.
  • Avoiding Cross Contamination - Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. It happens when harmful bacteria, viruses or allergens are spread onto food from other food, surfaces, hands or equipment. The Avoiding cross contamination guidance provides guidance on how to avoid cross-contamination by following simple practices in the preparation and handling of food products 
  • Chilling Food correctly in your business - In the chilling food guidance, providers can find guidance on how to chill, freeze and defrost food safely. 
  • Cooking Safely in your business - In the cooking safely in your business guidance, providers can find guidance on how to cook food in their business to kill harmful bacteria and prevent food poisoning
  • Pest Control - Effective pest control is essential to keep pests out of your premises and prevent them from spreading harmful bacteria.  Your food business does not legally have to have a pest control contract in place; however, you do have a legal obligation to manage pests and have a documented procedure in place to show how you are doing so. The procedure must outline preventative measures and what action you will take should you identify a pest problem. Identifying a pest problem requires you to monitor your establishment pests and one of the clearest ways to do and evidence this, is to have a contract with a pest control company to visit on a regular basis to inspect, bait and report. Reputable pest control companies know what to look for and where to look. If the local authorities Food Safety officers subsequently find evidence of pests, Environmental Health can assume that you are not following your documented procedure and can instruct you to get a pest control contractor in to treat. In some cases you can be closed while remedial works are completed, but at the very least you will be given a poor food safety rating which you will then need to improve on within a four month period of an inspection as part of our specific Food Safety Team Around a Setting process (please refer to the Food Safety & FEEE Providers section below). To summarise, whilst it is not a statutory requirement that you have a pest control contract in place, it would be difficult, if not impossible for you to evidence due diligence if Environmental Health ever had to take formal action. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a Safe method guidance document on Pest Control. In Waltham Forest, if you have undesirable animals, insects and other pests, you can get them treated by the pest control team. The service can be booked online.

Food Safety Inspections & Ratings

Inspections are undertaken by Environmental Health Officers from the Food Safety Team. The frequency of inspections depends on the nature of the business and the condition of the premises at the last inspection. Inspections are carried out without prior notification.

The Environmental Health Officers will visit your premises to check if your business is complying with food law and producing food that is safe to eat.

Childcare providers can find out what they need to know about inspections, paid re-visits, guidance and enforcement via the Local Authority’s food safety business guidance The FSA has also produced a guidance on Food safety inspection and enforcement which provides guidance on how to prepare your business for food safety inspections and avoid enforcement action. 

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme are provided following inspections, from 5 (very good) down to 0 (urgent improvement necessary), in accordance with the FSA Brand Standard

Following an inspection, ratings are then published so that customers can make informed decisions. The rating scheme gives businesses a rating from 5 to 0 which is displayed at their premises and online. The rating scheme is as below: 

5 – hygiene standards are very good

4 – hygiene standards are good

3 – hygiene standards are generally satisfactory

2 – some improvement is necessary

1 – major improvement is necessary

0 – urgent improvement is required

Food Safety & FEEE Providers

Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE) early years and childcare providers who are given a Food Safety Rating of less than 2 will be seen as failing to comply with their contractual obligation to meet the statutory requirements of the EYFS 2021. This is important in securing the wellbeing of the service users. 

As a result of a Food Safety rating less than 2, the childcare provider must satisfactorily complete a Team Around the Setting (TAS) process.

Failure by the Provider to provide evidence of Food Safety Agency rating of 2 or above by the required TAS process deadline, this may result in the LA’s suspension/cessation of the providers FEEE contract with the Local Authority to provide FEEE places for eligible 2, 3 & 4 YO children. 

Food Safety Webinars & Video Resources

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a range of videos to support childcare providers in delivering a high quality and safe food hygiene practices at their settings.

FSA Explains: Food Hygiene rating standards

Last update: Monday 13th of May 2024 03:20:40 PM