Media outlets recently reported the tragic news of a child sadly losing their life following a choking incident at nursery. This has obviously prompted concern, among parents, staff and others connected with nurseries, about choking hazards. In collaboration with our catering team, Zebedees, we wanted to address concerns and provide as much information as possible.
Zebedees have been catering for nursery children for more than 20 years, and as well as giving careful consideration to the nutritional balance of menus, they also look at the suitability of dishes from a safety perspective – both in terms of allergens, and in terms of the size and textures of foods. We hope that the following information will help alleviate any concerns you may have.
As specialist caterers to nursery children we design our menus to minimise all possible risks of choking. Ingredients are chosen based on their suitability for the age of the children that we feed. Specifically, our Speldhurst Kent Sausages are especially made for us using a softer skin which makes them very soft and easy to chew for younger children. We also cook and transport the sausages in our homemade baked beans or gravy in order to keep them soft. Nursery staff can easily cut these for younger children to the desired size, and we are happy to offer advice to staff on how to serve meals safely (we recommend slicing lengthways first, before cutting into smaller pieces). We have taken care to choose a dedicated supplier who can make the sausages to our own specification, ensuring that the sausages not only have a soft texture, but have a high meat content and are very low in salt. The same applies to our Halal sausages and our Pork Free sausages – all are made with the softest casing, and cooked and transported in the same way.
We use the same style sausages for our Afternoon Teas, but as these are served cold we ensure that they are first halved lengthways, and then sliced to a thickness of no more than 5 mm. It is important to note that in all our years of business we have never to date received a report of them as a choking risk.
Grapes are excluded from our Lunch and Tea menus.
All fruits and vegetables are chopped, sliced or diced to the appropriate size and thickness for younger children, whilst still giving a range of colours, textures and flavours.
We understand that many of you will have concerns following the recent news report, but we wish to reassure you that all of our dishes only use ingredients that are suitable for the vulnerable age group that we are catering to. In view of the standards that we already have in place there are no plans to remove sausages from our menus as these are extremely low risk. However, we will be very happy to discuss any concerns with nurseries directly, and respond to your needs as best we can.