What are catering signs? - The Sign Shed

What are catering signs?

What are catering signs?

Catering signs are visual cues designed to promote safe food handling practices and maintain a hygienic environment in catering establishments. These signs play a crucial role in preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring the safety of food preparation, storage, and service.

Purpose of Catering Signs

Catering signs serve several important purposes in promoting food safety in catering settings:

  1. Clearly Indicate Food Safety Practices: Catering signs provide clear and unambiguous instructions about proper food handling procedures, such as handwashing, temperature control, and cross-contamination prevention.
  2. Raise Awareness of Food Safety Hazards: Catering signs alert staff and management to potential food safety hazards, such as allergens, hazardous substances, and sanitation issues.
  3. Promote Compliance with Regulations: Catering signs can help ensure compliance with relevant food safety regulations by reinforcing established guidelines and practices.
  4. Minimize Risks and Contamination: Catering signs aim to minimize risks and contamination by discouraging or preventing actions that could lead to foodborne illnesses or food spoilage.

Design and Symbolism of Catering Signs

Catering signs follow standardized designs and symbols to ensure consistency and effectiveness in conveying food safety messages:

  1. Color-Coded System: Catering signs typically utilize a color-coded system to convey different levels of risk and importance, similar to caution and warning signs.
    • Red: Indicates danger and potential for severe foodborne illnesses. Used for prohibition signs.
    • Orange: Warns of potential food safety hazards and requires caution. Used for warning signs.
    • Blue: Mandates specific actions or behaviors related to food safety practices. Used for mandatory signs.
    • Green: Indicates safe food handling practices or conditions. Used for safe condition signs.
  1. Easily Understandable Symbols: Catering signs often employ pictograms that depict specific food safety practices or procedures, such as handwashing, temperature control, or allergen warnings.
  2. Text Descriptions: Some catering signs may include additional text descriptions to provide further clarification or instructions, especially in cases where pictograms are not universally understood or when language barriers may exist.

Placement of Catering Signs

Catering signs should be strategically placed in visible locations where they are most likely to be seen by staff, management, and visitors. They should be positioned near food preparation areas, storage areas, handwashing stations, and entrances to catering facilities. Catering signage should be mounted at a height that is easily seen by occupants, typically between 6 feet and 8 feet from the floor.

Examples of Catering Signs

Some common examples of catering signs include:

  1. Handwashing Signs: These signs remind staff and visitors to wash hands properly before handling food, preventing the spread of germs and contamination.
  2. Temperature Control Signs: These signs indicate proper temperature ranges for storing and preparing food, ensuring that foods are kept at safe temperatures to prevent bacterial growth.
  3. Allergen Warning Signs: These signs alert staff and customers to the presence of allergens in food preparations, preventing allergic reactions and ensuring food safety for individuals with allergies.
  4. Prohibition Signs: These signs prohibit specific actions or behaviors that could compromise food safety, such as smoking in food preparation areas or using expired ingredients.
  5. Sanitation Signs: These signs promote proper sanitation practices, reminding staff to clean and disinfect surfaces regularly to prevent cross-contamination and maintain a hygienic environment.
  6. Waste Disposal Signs: These signs indicate designated areas for waste disposal, preventing the accumulation of food waste and maintaining a clean and organized work area.

Compliance with Regulations

Catering signs must comply with relevant food safety regulations, such as the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) in the UK. These regulations specify the design, dimensions, colors, and symbols used for catering signs, ensuring consistency and effectiveness in conveying food safety messages.


Catering signs play a vital role in promoting food safety practices and preventing foodborne illnesses in catering establishments. By clearly indicating food safety procedures, raising awareness of hazards, promoting compliance with regulations, and minimizing risks, catering signs contribute to a safer and healthier environment for both food handlers and consumers.

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