The museum does not provide food itself and has limited facilities for the preparation of food on the premises. However this does not prevent excellent catering being provided using external caterers who have the facilities to prepare a buffet or other food on their own premises and bring it to the museum ready to eat. You are free to choose any caterer for this but please bear in mind the importance of food hygiene when you select a firm. An outbreak of food poisoning would turn your event into a disaster rather than a success - but with proper attention, the risk can be minimised.
We recommend you insist on seeing a copy of the food hygiene certificate of the person who will be doing or supervising the food preparation. This will be issued by a recognised body such as the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene, the Royal Society of Health, or the Society of Food Hygiene Technology. If the caterer cannot or will not produce evidence of basic competence in this area we strongly advise you to select a different caterer. A good caterer will recognise the importance of hygiene and will be pleased to demonstrate competence.
Your caterer should make plans to bring the prepared food to the museum under hygienic conditions and with proper measures for temperature control. We have a small refrigeration facility. If there is a lot of perishable food insulated containers or other means of temperature control may be needed. The exact arrangements will of course depend on the menu, the distance from the caterer's kitchen, and the time delay between delivery and consumption. It is recommended that food be delivered as late as practicable, although heavy non-perishables such as cases of wine may be delivered earlier and stored in the museum by arrangement with us.
The caterer should assess the risks and hazards involved, as with any external catering, and plan their operation including any short term hygienic storage and temperature control. This will sometimes mean paying a visit to the building or a telephone call to us to ensure they have all the necessary information they need. The use of raw eggs as an ingredient is known to be associated with particularly high risk. You should not use raw shell eggs, i.e. uncooked eggs, and foods such as home made mayonnaise and chocolate mouse made with raw eggs are not advised..
If your caterer wishes to bring any heavy equipment, for example an oven, onto the premises, then this should be discussed in advance with us.
You are advised to give your caterer a copy of this page and ensure they understand that the planning and management of food safety is their responsibility.
The possibility of a food hygiene problem is alarming - but do not be alarmed, be prepared. With care and attention the risks can be reduced to a very low level. Many functions have already demonstrated that delicious meals can be served in the attractive surroundings of the museum without any problems, provided the necessary precautions are taken and good practice is followed.