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Food Safety in School: A Guide for Administrators

happy-elementary-school-girl-having-a-healthy-lunch- and-smiling

As a school administrator, foodservice manager, district official, or another school leader, you are responsible for overseeing your institution’s foodservice and safety protocols. Our comprehensive guide will help you improve child nutrition programs, keep food safe, and enhance your food safety awareness.

Understanding the Importance of Food Safety in Schools

Food safety can be compromised at any point, from purchase, storage, and preparation to holding, serving, and cleaning. Even if your knowledge and understanding of these processes and systems is extensive, without a focus on their continual improvement your food safety program is incomplete.

District and State Regulations on Food Safety

Recent changes to improve the safety of school meals, such as the National School Lunch Act, requires schools in all states and districts to follow principles based on the HACCP -  hazard analysis critical control point  principles. You must also adhere to your state’s food safety regulations.

These seven principles form a system that allows for food safety hazards to be identified, prevented, and controlled, drastically reducing foodborne illness and violations risks.

Implementing HACCP in the School Food Service Environment

Administrators wishing to implement HACCP must:

  • Analyze chemical, physical and biological hazards like bacteria and glass fragments.
  • Identify the areas where food safety hazards can be prevented, reduced, or eliminated. These areas are known as critical control points (CCPs).
  • Establish limits for each CCP. Temperature is the primary means of identifying hazards.
  • Establish monitoring procedures such as temperature, time, and visual observation.
  • Establish corrective actions for each CCP once they have been reached, such as identifying how and when the issue occurred and correcting the cause.
  • Establish record-keeping systems that allow all activity related to HACCP food safety temperatures to be accurately documented.
  • Establish verification procedures that allow staff to know the HACCP program is operating properly, such as periodic review of records and regular inspections.

Communication, Education and Training

The importance of food safety and the development of a food safety culture at your school must be effectively communicated in order to be understood and implemented. Many communication resources are available, including: Food Safe Families and Partnership for Food Safety Education.

The USDA recommends adding food safety items to your back-to-school list. Check out the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and USDA Food and Nutrition Service for resources.

School nutrition directors must ensure that all individuals handling food products receive the right training and education to identify all of the above critical control points and implement HACCP principles. Training and education should include best practices for the safe handling of all foods in kitchens and school cafeterias. ANSI food safety certification may be required in some states. The Food Safe Action Guide is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Additional Strategies for Efficient HACCP Implementation

Elementary school cafeteria with multicolored swivel seats

The aforementioned resources provide directors of school nutrition programs with many ways to communicate the importance of food safety and implement these programs at their institutions.

A food safety newsletter can update communities on your efforts to improve food safety, and information sessions can educate community members on the importance of food safety in their homes and schools.

ComplianceMate is a premier food safety solution that offers school administrators a way to ensure complete food safety programs and environments for students and staff alike.

Using powerful features like wireless temperature probes, automated HACCP workflow checklists, data monitoring and reporting, and real-time alerts, ComplianceMate helps you revolutionize your food safety practices and digitize your processes.

Our completely customizable solution allows you to conduct root cause analysis and reduce food waste as you increase your ROI. Realize all the benefits of the ComplianceMate solution by requesting a customized demonstration for your school today.

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