Guidelines for community volunteers preparing food for donation

The following guidance is to provide volunteers with information on how to ensure that food prepared at home for donation in the community is carried out safely to avoid the risk of food…

The following guidance is to provide volunteers with information on how to ensure that food prepared at home for donation in the community is carried out safely to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

  • Please do not provide food if you have symptoms or are in self isolation.

Cross contamination

The spread of bacteria around the kitchen and onto food can result in illness. People carry bacteria on their bodies including their hands.

Washing hands effectively can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

  • Always wash your hands before handling food and:
  • After going to the toilet
  • After handling rubbish
  • After touching uncooked meat
  • After feeding pets
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose

Best practice for hand washing:

Think about where you wash your hands. Do not use the hand wash in the W/C.

If you only have a single sink, keep it clear for hand washing and clean before use.

Liquid soap is best for hand washing

Disposable paper towels are best for drying

Cloths can easily spread bacteria in the kitchen.

  • Use single use cloths wherever possible

  • If you use reusable cloths, then

Always use a new or clean cloth to clean surfaces or utensils that will be used for ready to eat foods, if a cloth is used for raw meat or eggs it should be placed in a hot wash after use.

Wash or disinfect cloths and fabric hand towels every day either on a hot cycle in the washing machine.

Uncooked and ready to eat foods must be kept separate to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading.

  • Keep food covered and in the fridge

  • Ensure that uncooked food is stored at the bottom of the fridge below ready to eat foods.

  • Prepare uncooked and ready to eat foods separately.

  • Do not use the same chopping board, work surface or knives unless they have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between the different foods.

Domestic Activities can cause the spread of harmful bacteria. Always ensure your own domestic washing is separate from the washing cloths and tea towels.

  • Doing the laundry and caring for pets, including feeding, should not be carried out whilst you are handling and preparing foods. Ideally pets would not be allowed in your kitchen.

Pests such as flies, cockroaches, rats, mice and food storage beetles can spread harmful bacteria onto food.

  • Make sure pests cannot get into your kitchen and food storage areas.

  • Keep lids on external bins. Ensure bins are washed out regularly.

  • If pests get into the kitchen throw away any food that they came into contact with, contact a pest control company for advice and thoroughly clean and disinfect the kitchen

Food allergies and Intolerances. As a food business serving food there is now a legal requirement for you to be able to inform people if the food you supply contains any of the following 14 ingredients which may cause allergic reactions: celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, nuts (almond, brazil, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachio, macadamia, hazelnuts and Queensland nuts), peanuts, sesame seeds, soya and sulphur dioxide.

The information could be verbal or written

  • Ask people what food allergies they may have.

  • If they have a food allergy ensure that you are careful when preparing food in order to prevent cross. contamination. Thoroughly clean the surfaces and equipment prior to preparing the dish

Illness and Fitness to Work. Do not prepare or serve food if you are suffering from diarrhoea and/or vomiting or if you have COVID 19 symptoms or are self-isolating.


Food debris may contain harmful bacteria and if left around it can attract pests. Harmful bacteria can remain on equipment, utensils, surfaces and hands until they have been cleaned and/or disinfected.

  • Ensure food debris is cleaned up.

  • Use an antibacterial spray or sanitiser.

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to use their cleaning products

Chilling / Storage

High risk foods such as dairy products, cooked foods, food with use by dates and those with ‘keep refrigerated’ on the label must be kept cold enough to make sure that harmful bacteria does not grow.

  • Your fridge should be kept between 0°C and 8°C (recommended temperature is between 1-5°C).

  • High risk foods should be kept in the fridge until they are needed.


Food that is not defrosted properly can grow harmful bacteria.

Defrosting food in a warm kitchen may mean that harmful bacteria can grow on its surface whilst the inside is still frozen.

Cooking food that is partially frozen may result in harmful bacteria surviving the cooking process.

  • Allow time to defrost foods in the fridge.

  • Ensure that food is thoroughly defrosted before cooking.


Hot food should be cooled as quickly as possible to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria.

  • All cooked food should be cooled as quickly as possible. It is recommended this is around 90 minutes maximum.

  • If freezing food this must be carried out as soon as it is cooled down to fridge temperature.

  • Frozen food that you have bought should be placed in the freezer immediately (you should not re freeze defrosted foods).

Use by Dates

Food must not be used past its use by date as the manufacturer does not guarantee it is safe to eat past this date.

  • It is recommended that once opened high risk foods that are home made are used within 3 days and never used past their use by date or manufacturers instructions.

Cooking and reheating


Harmful bacteria may survive the cooking process if the food does not reach a sufficiently high temperature.

  • Temperatures above 75 °C will destroy most harmful bacteria therefore cooking food until it is piping hot is the best way to ensure food is safe to eat. A visual check may be sufficient to check food is piping hot but always check the centre of the dish is also hot.


With soft yolks may contain harmful bacteria.

  • Ensure that all eggs are thoroughly cooked.

  • Always wash your hands after handling eggs.

  • It is strongly recommended that ‘Class (Grade) A’ eggs are used in catering. Class A eggs are stamped with a unique traceability number and are of a high quality (clean) which may minimise the risk of contamination.


Food must be reheated to 75°C to destroy most harmful bacteria. Piping hot.

  • Only reheat foods once

Deliveries/ Shopping

Always ensure frozen and chilled food deliveries are placed in the fridge/freezer as soon as they have been delivered.

When purchasing foods from the shops ensure chilled and frozen foods are kept cool on the journey home by using a cool box/ cool bag.