Food Safety (Cooking and Catering)

Date: 13.07.2016     Last updated: 30.04.2018 at 13.07
A guide to cooking and prepping food related to productions including location catering and cooking in Studios.

This guidance includes advice on selecting competent caterers and home economists to provide location catering and food preparation for cookery programmes. Advice is also provided on the food hygiene measures to be applied when cooking products for charity bake sales, taste testing and cookery demos so as to prevent foodborne illness. This guide does not cover staff catering in BBC premises.

Even if you are not catering yourself, understanding this guidance will help you judge whether your caterers are following good practice.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Food poisoning caused by eating food containing harmful bacteria or which contains harmful substances.
  • Allergic reaction from consumption of food or working with foods such as nuts, dairy products or wheat.
  • Contamination of foods by insects, rats and mice.
  • Prosecution for failing to meet food safety standards.
  • Location catering is of special concern as it is more difficult to manage food hygiene in a temporary location.
  • Kitchens present hazards such as electricity, natural gas, hot water, hot surfaces and knives and the risks from these can be greater in a temporary or mobile kitchen.
  • Water pollution can be caused if waste water from catering operations (contaminated with detergents, oils and food matter) is discharged straight to surface water drains, rivers, streams, or directly onto the ground.
  • Fire from poorly maintained electrical equipment
  • Slips, Trips from food/liquid spillages

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended)
  • The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002
  • Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs
  • The General Food Regulations 2004 (as amended)
  • The Food Information Regulations 2014 (must provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, in for example catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars)

Control Measures

Selecting caterers/home economists

When appointing production caterers or home economists, choose a contractor from the BBC approved list. Where geographical need or other circumstances do not permit such use, select a caterer with the following credentials:

  • Registered with the Local Authority as a Food Business Operator.
  • Mobile catering is a normal part of their business.
  • Has attained at least three stars in the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) or a 'pass' in the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (Scotland only).
  • Sufficient food hygiene training for food handlers. Those in supervisory roles/head chef should have completed more than just level 2 (basic) food hygiene training.
  • Always ask when food hygiene training was last undertaken and to what level or request for a copy of their certificates. It’s good practice to receive such training every three years.
  • Has a food safety management system, e.g. HACCP or apply the principles of Food Safety via use of Safer Food Better Business Pack. Always ask for a copy of their documentation or an explanation of how they ensure food safety and check that systems are followed at any production location.
  • Has public liability insurance which covers their catering activities.
  • Mobile Units: Gas supplies/ cookers/ boilers on vehicles and appliances have been certified.

Site Needs

  • Ensure caterer has appropriate means of disposing of food waste in accordance with requirements of relevant regulations e.g. Animal By-Products Regulations. On location this can be achieved by checking your venue/site has a waste collection you can utilise or by arranging a collection by a waste disposal company who is a Registered Waste Carrier. If the location is a domestic premises or in a studio you must not dispose of catering waste with domestic waste.
  • When working outside check your caterer can provide a waste water bowser to collect and remove waste water for offsite disposal, or adequate provision is available on site for waste water disposal.
  • When providing food for early morning breakfasts or evening meals check there is sufficient lighting in preparation areas and staff eating areas.
  • Caterers need access to or must supply WC and hand washing facilities so hygiene and welfare is maintained.
  • Check any food preparation will provide easily cleanable surfaces and protection from contamination. Outside location areas can achieve this by providing covered and raised food preparation areas via the use of flame retardant marquee and trestle tables.
  • Areas used for food preparation must be cleaned before and after use.
  • First aid boxes should be located close by and be fully stocked and easily accessible.

Personal Hygiene- Applicable to All Food Preparation

  • Ensure those preparing food follow and maintain good personal hygiene such as: tying long hair back; covering all cuts and grazes with blue plasters (so it can be seen if it drops into food) and remove any rings or other hand jewellery.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and dry hands with a clean hand towel (not a tea towel or apron).
  • Always ensure hands are washed after visiting the toilet, handling raw food such as eggs, blowing your nose or touching animals, smoking or eating etc.
  • Check any staff with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting are excluded from food preparation and handling until they are 48 hours symptom free.
  • Wash and replace used kitchen cloths, sponges and tea towels frequently.

Food Preparation

  • Ensure foods are bought from a reputable supplier, preferably just before you need them, and make sure that they are well within their ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates.
  • Store dry goods and ready to eat foods in sealable food grade containers, and away from raw foods.
  • Segregate raw and cooked food storage in fridges, freezers and in general storage.
  • Make sure that surfaces, chopping boards, bowls, knives and other utensils are thoroughly clean and disinfected after each use . (Remember - damp sponges and cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.
  • Use different chopping boards/work surfaces for raw food and ready-to eat foods, meats, salads and vegetables.
  • Thoroughly wash salad and vegetables to remove soil and e-coli contamination risk.
  • Cook foods thoroughly- use a probe to test the core temperature of meats, joints, always stir thoroughly soups and gravy’s to avoid cool spots and ensure evenly cooked.
  • Keep foods at the right temperature (below 8°C for chilled, above 63°C for cooking).
  • Keep products containing cream or butter icing in the fridge (below 8°C) until needed, and make sure they are kept chilled before being served.
  • Avoid the use of high risk products, such as raw eggs in anything that won't be thoroughly cooked, such as icing or mousse.
  • Food/liquid spillages to be cleaned up immediately.

Food Allergens

  • Cook and prepare separately any food known to cause allergies. I.e. wash down surfaces and utensils that have been used prior to making other dishes or cakes.
  • Raise awareness of the ingredients used to production teams and or label the cakes/products if being donated to bake sales with the name of the person who made them, the date they were made and a list of ingredients. This is particularly important for cakes and other products containing nuts.
  • If offering for sale or taste testing any products that may contain allergens ensure they are sliced or sampled with the same knife and ask the tester about any known allergens or food sensitivities before testing. Tell people what allergens food may contain.
  • Always check with a child parent or guardian before allowing a child to taste test products.

Cooking in Studios

In addition to the above controls:

  • Radio Studios Only: A cooking trolley (Baby Belling) has been constructed for BBC Radio and only this cooking equipment can be used in W1 Radio Studios. No other source of heat can be used.
  • The contributor can only use one tablespoon of oil
  • The attendance of the fire officer is mandatory during the programme, they will isolate fire/smoke detector and ensure suitable fire extinguishers and a fire blanket is available.
  • The Broadcast Duty Manager, Duty Facilities Manager, Building Manager and Studio Manager must be alerted of cooking activity in advance.
  • If a guest/ contributor beings in their own electrical equipment for food preparation, this equipment e.g mixers, must be covered by a portable appliance test (PAT) certificate.
  • Any equipment not displaying an in date PAT label will only be powered through a Residual Current Device (RCD).

Division Specific Issues


  • BBC Radio in W1: Have the use of a portable "Baby Belling cooking Trolley", which is housed in Old Broadcasting House. A generic risk assessment (RA42479) has been created on myRisks "Generic - Cooking in W1 Radio Studios Using the Portable Baby Belling Cooking Trolley". This must be used when planning to cook in W1 radio studios. The "Cooking in Studios Checklist" must also be completed by the producer and the contributor carrying out the cooking activity, this check can be found in the generic risk assessment on myRisks.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • There have been incidents where several key people in a crew have all been affected by “food poisoning” at the same time causing severe disruption to the production.
  • Although most food poisoning bacteria do not readily multiply in foods below 5°C, many harmful bacteria can survive in ice, even after freezing. Therefore good food hygiene practices must also be applied to ice.
  • Food inspectors love watching television and will alert the BBC if they suspect that poor hygiene practices are being adopted by presenters and chefs.
  • If you're thinking of baking some food for others at work (such as cake sales for charity events such as CiN), then have a read of our quick safety tips (see Useful Documents).

 Safety Guides - Quick Links

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