Food Handling and Preparation in a Child Care Setting
When evaluating a child care center, ask about how food is handled and what types of eating areas are provided.
- Are meals or snacks prepared on-site? If so, where? What types of food are provided?
- Are there any restrictions on what types of food children can bring?
Ask about the food preparation areas. Make sure the following standards are met:
- Counters and tabletops are clean.
- Appliances are in good repair.
- Cutting boards are nonporous (plastic, glass, or Formica; not wood).
- Ready-to-eat foods are prepared and kept separately from uncooked products, such as raw meat.
- Cabinets and refrigerators are clean and uncrowded.
- Either disposable dishes and utensils are used, or all nondisposable dishes are cleaned in a dishwasher with water heated above 160°F (71.1°C).
Ask the following questions about how food is stored, prepared, and served:
- Are all food containers labeled? Are children's individual meals (including breast milk) labeled with a name, date, and type of food?
- How are child care and food preparation duties separated? If the same person is responsible for both, are the guidelines for hand-washing after diapering strictly enforced?
- Are any raw foods prepared? If so, how? (Raw meats, raw eggs, or any products that contain raw eggs should not be served.)
- Are children taught not to share food, utensils, or plates? How are spills handled? Are all items that are dropped on the floor discarded?
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