Child care providers face the same challenges parents do when it comes to serving healthy snacks. The after school children in your care require snacks, while full-time programs also need to provide lunch or even breakfast. Following food safety guidelines in child care ensures children receive healthy snacks stored and served safely. This prevents risk for food born illnesses and poisoning. These food safety guidelines in child care will help keep the children in your care safe.
Food Purchasing Tips
When purchasing groceries for your child care service, it is important to follow food safety guidelines in child care best practices including:
- Purchase only inspected meals
- Select pasteurized milk and 100% pure juices
- Inspect cans carefully for signs of leaking, rust or bulging
- If your grocery list includes frozen foods always collect these just before paying
You can also use helpful tips to make smart choices that are both healthy and budget-friendly:
- Use a weekly menu plan so you only buy the foods you need
- Choose healthy foods you know kids will eat to avoid food waste
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season as they are fresher and also more affordable
- Opt for whole-grain choices for bread, crackers, and snacks
- Although 100% fruit juices are better than sodas, it is better to choose milk or water
- Fruits can be served in a number of ways including fresh, frozen, or even canned
- Avoid prepared snacks high in sugar content
- Don’t forget dairy such as cheese and yogurt
Be wary of nuts, products containing nuts or foods prepared in factories where they might come into contact with nuts to avoid the risk of severe allergies.
Food Storage Tips
Once you return with your groceries always put cold foods in the fridge immediately to stick to food safety guidelines in child care. All fresh fruits and vegetables must be rinsed and dried thoroughly before preparation or being served to children. You can also follow these important tips:
- Head directly back to your facility so you can place all frozen or refrigerated goods directly into cold storage.
- Store foods in covered containers such as Tupperware in the refrigerator to avoid contamination and always wash containers before restocking them.
- Place thermometers in a visible location in refrigerators and freezers, and check that they are at safe levels with the refrigerator at or below 40° F and the freezer at 0° F (-18° C) frequently.
- Clean the refrigerator, freezer, and dry food storage areas weekly.
- Never store food in the same area as cleaning supplies.
- Store cleaning supplies in a cupboard that is locked, preferably out of reach of children.
These food safety guidelines for child care programs will help reduce the risk for spoilage, poisoning, and contamination.
Food Preparation Tips
Even something as simple as placing snacks on a plate requires careful preparation to keep children healthy. Follow the seven principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system to address microbiological food safety issues:
- Conduct a hazard analysis.
- Determine the critical control points (CCPs).
- Establish critical limits.
- Establish monitoring procedures.
- Establish corrective actions.
- Establish verification procedures.
- Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures
This allows you to identify and evaluate your processes so you can control the spread of illness through food. Next, follow standard preparation food safety guidelines for child care programs including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water during food preparation
- Wash and sanitize work counters and surfaces before and after use
- Wash and sanitize cutting boards and utensils before using and after each use
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats
- Wash and sanitize can openers after each use to remove food residue
- Put frozen meats into a pan before placing them in the refrigerator to thaw and never thaw them on the kitchen counter
- Cook meats thoroughly, and use a food thermometer to be sure they are fully cooked to between 140° - 180° F
- Do not change diapers in areas where you prepare, store, and serve foods
- If you have pets, keep them out of the kitchen when meals are being prepared and also in the area where food is served to children
Even a simple slip up such as not washing your hands can lead to illness. Post these steps in your food preparation area so staff can follow the steps as they work.
Serving Meals To Children
When serving meals to children follow these food safety preparation steps to keep everyone healthy:
- Do not touch ready-to-eat foods with your bare hands, always use gloves, tongs, or utensils.
- Wash fruits and vegetables under running water before you cut and serve it.
- Make sure if you prepare raw meat, including frozen meat products, that it does not come into contact with other foods.
- If preparing foods in advance, make sure they are covered with a lid or cling wrap until it is time to serve. Keep in mind it should not be left out too long and warm foods should be served at a temperature of at least 140˚F.
- Always check foods for the best before dates before serving, and toss anything beyond its date.
- If cooking food from scratch cook it until it reaches above 140˚F using a food probe thermometer to check doneness.
- When using a probe thermometer ensure it is in the center of the food and wait until it is finished and stabilized to ensure you get an accurate reading.
- If storing cooked food, wait until the food stops steaming before putting it in the fridge.
- Stored food should be clearly labelled with what it is and when it was prepared.
- When reheating prepared food, it must be heated right through until steaming and reaches a temperature of at least 140˚F (be certain to avoid serving steaming food to children to reduce risk of burns).
- Always heat food in the microwave with microwave-safe containers or dishes.
- Food should be served wearing gloves and with tongs to avoid touching the food with bare hands.
- Perishable foods left out of the fridge longer than four hours must be tossed, with cold foods requiring a temperature of no more than 40° F.
Serve food on disposable plates and utensils, or on plates cleaned in accordance with proper guidelines below.
Appropriate Dish Washing In Child Care Setting
A clean kitchen is always the best way to ensure food served remains safe. All counters should be cleaned with hot, soapy water and left to dry, as well as the tables, benches, and chairs where the children sit to eat. Surfaces that come in contact with food including plates and cups must be sanitized at the end of the day or preferably after use.
Each child must have their own cup and plate and should always be discouraged from sharing. Dishwashers with a sanitizing cycle are highly recommended for child care providers and should be rinsed at 180° F. If using sanitizers, ensure they are food grade chemical sanitizers.
Following the food safety guidelines, child care providers should be familiar with will protect the children in your care as well as your good name.
Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.
Our child care management system makes running your child care program simple and efficient. Get back to what's most important. You shouldn't have to spend more time on the administrative tasks than you do with children and staff.
Get the latest and greatest child care news and information today! Sign up for our newsletter...
Or schedule a demo with us to learn more about how our child care management system, Alliance Core, can streamline your administrative processes.
Do you run an early childhood association made up of child care providers? If so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Shared Service Alliance.
Header image courtesy of Stockunlimited.