Health and Safety
Child Care Centers
and Family Day
ACTIVITY — True or False
1. Everything that looks clean is free
2. Wiping the tabletop or other surface
with a damp cloth removes harmful
3. Bacteria grow more quickly between
45oF and 140oF.
4. Cross-contamination is the transfer of
harmful bacteria from one food to
5. If an infant does not drink all of the
milk in their bottle, refrigerate the
leftovers for the next feeding.
6. Bleach is an effective sanitizer.
7. Set your refrigerator to 39oF or
colder to slow bacterial growth.
8. Most foodborne illnesses are due
What is Foodborne Illness?
A foodborne illness is caused by food that has
been contaminated by bacteria, viruses or
parasites. You can not tell if the food has been
contaminated by looking, smelling or tasting
Is Foodborne Illness Common?
Every year about 76 million Americans get
Most cases are not life-threatening.
But . . . more than 5,000 people die and
325,000 are hospitalized due to
Who is at Risk?
Serious complications are more common in highrisk populations such as:
elderly persons, and
the chronically ill.
What are toxins?
They are poisons that can
form when food has been
Cooking food will not
necessarily destroy toxins
and so keep food hot or
cold to prevent them
How do I know if I have foodborne
The most common symptoms for foodborne illness are:
These symptoms usually begin 6 to 24 hours after
you eat contaminated food. These symptoms are
often confused with the flu.
Buying and Receiving
Where should I get my food?
Buy food from an approved source, such as a
grocery store or a food retailer.
Home canned foods, unpasteurized dairy
foods and wild game cannot be served in
child care centers. They have not passed a
state or federal inspection and so might be
What do I look for when opening
cans and jars?
Before opening cans and jars, check for:
bulges, including bulging lids;
Never buy or use any food in questionable
containers. When in doubt, throw it out!
How can I tell if a can or jar of food
is safe to eat?
spurting liquid; and/or
These are signs that gas or
acid has formed, and that
means bacteria has probably
grown in the food.
Can I have pets in my center?
Do not allow pets to walk on countertops or in
food preparation areas.
Keep caged animals, such as turtles, gerbils or
hamsters, out of food preparation areas.
Always wash your hands after touching an
animal. Animals carry harmful
microorganisms on their bodies, such as
Are moldy foods safe to eat?
No. Throw out food that is moldy because
some molds can produce toxins.
Moldy fruit, vegetables and breads should be
Cooking will not destroy the mold toxins.
What is a potentially hazardous
Any food can cause foodborne illness. However,
bacteria can only grow in potentially hazardous
Potentially hazardous foods are moist, low acid, and
have some protein.
To prevent bacteria from growing, keep potentially
hazardous foods at 140oF or hotter or 45oF or
Can improper storage make food
unsafe to eat?
Food may be safe when you buy it, but
improper storage can make it unsafe to eat.
Proper storage can slow food spoilage.
More importantly, proper storage can prevent
cross-contamination and bacterial growth.
Storing How To’s
Store unopened, non-perishable food:
in a cool dry area;
on clean shelving that is at least 12 inches off the floor or in
clean kitchen cupboards; and
in a tightly covered container if removed from its original
Label and date the container, not the lid, with the name of
Are there any places that I cannot
Never store food under any plumbing lines
(especially kitchen sinks). If the lines drip,
food can become contaminated.
Never store food on the floor. Dirt, rodents,
insects or water that might be on the floor can
contaminate the food.
Can food become unsafe while
stored in a refrigerator?
Yes. Bacteria can grow in food
when the food is in the
temperatures danger zone for more
than four hours. To prevent
bacteria from growing, set your
refrigerator temperature no higher
Use potentially hazardous foods
within seven days.
Refrigeration How To’s
Store perishable foods in the coldest part of the
refrigerator — usually toward the back of the
Wrap raw meat, poultry and fish with plastic wrap
or aluminum foil before refrigerating.
Store raw foods that drip on the lowest shelf of the
refrigerator so their juices do not contaminate other
How do I check refrigeration
Check refrigerator temperatures by putting a
thermometer inside the refrigerator near the
It should read 39oF or colder. If it does not,
adjust the dial as needed.
Also check the temperature of the food. The
food should be no warmer than 45oF.
Can freezing temperatures make
food safe to eat?
No. Freezer temperatures slow
bacterial growth but do not
necessarily kill bacteria.
Therefore, if a food has been
freezing, it will be unsafe upon
Keep freezer temperatures at 0oF or
older. Use a freezer thermometer
to check freezer temperatures.
How do I handle foods that children
bring from home?
Check food that children have brought from
home. If food needs to be kept cold,
refrigerate immediately. If not, store in a
clean area that is not on the floor.
Always label and date the food brought from
home if that is allowed in your home or center.
Upon completion of this activity,
you will be able to determine if you
are properly washing your hands.
Why is handwashing so important?
Hands carry many harmful bacteria
and improper handwashing (or not
washing at all) is a common cause
for foodborne illness.
Handwashing How To’s
Wash your hands with
antibacterial soap and
water for at least 20
Dry with a clean paper
towel or other approved
Must I always wash fruits and
Yes, if you plan on eating the peel.
Harmful microorganisms might be on
Washing How To’s
Clean tough-skinned fruits and vegetables, such as
cucumbers, melons or apples, with a vegetable
brush and lukewarm water.
Never use soap or detergents; the residue could
make you sick.
Soak more delicate fruits and vegetables for a few
minutes in lukewarm water, then rinse thoroughly.
You do not need to wash bananas or oranges.
Can bacteria grow when I am
thawing frozen foods?
Yes. Freezing only kills some bacteria. Therefore,
frozen foods will still be contaminated. If a food is
improperly thawed, such as on a countertop, the
bacteria that is in the food can grow and possibly
cause foodborne illness.
Thawing How To’s
Put frozen food in the refrigerator one or two
days before it is needed. or
Microwave on the thaw or defrost setting
immediately before cooking, or
Never refreeze food that has been improperly
thawed or held at unsafe temperatures.
Special Consideration — Eggs
Thoroughly cook until the
white and yolk are firm.
Never eat partially cooked
Never allow children to lick
the spoon or taste egg-based
batter or dough.
Foods that Might Contain Raw or
Homemade ice cream
Why do I need to have a food
Proper food temperatures are critical to the
prevention of foodborne illness.
The only way to accurately determine if a hot food
is hot and a cold food is cold is to measure the
temperature of the food with a thermometer.
ACTIVITY — Thermometer
Upon completion of this activity, you will
understand why you need to check the accuracy of
your thermometers each day.
Thermometer How To’s
Use a thermometer that has a temperature range
between 0oF and 220oF
Clean and sanitize the stem before and after
Check the accuracy every day. Do so by
placing the stem in boiling water (boiling is
2120F) or ice water slush (freezing is 320F).
Adjust if needed.
Does cooking make food safe?
Yes. Proper cooking makes most foods safe
because the process kills harmful microorganisms,
such as bacteria, some viruses, and parasites.
Cooking is the process of heating food for a long
enough time and at high enough temperature to kill
harmful microorganisms that might be present.
Remember — food must be stored properly before
cooking or cooking might not be effective.
How hot is hot enough?
Whole cuts of beef or pork – 1550F or hotter
Ground beef – 1550F or hotter
Poultry/eggs – 1650F or hotter
Leftovers – 1650F or hotter
Fish – 145oF or hotter
Why must I continuously cook
Bacteria can grow in
partially cooked food.
Remember — bacteria love
it when the temperature of
the food is between 450F and
Are there special considerations for
Yes. Always stir while heating
and rotate food to distribute heat.
Microwaved food may have cold
spots which are ideal for bacterial
Reheat leftovers to a minimum of
1650F and serve immediately.
Can improper cooling make foods
unsafe to eat?
Yes. Bacteria can grow when food is in the
temperature danger zone. If food is improperly
cooled, it can be in the temperature danger zone for
more than four hours, so bacteria might be able to
Cooling How To’s
Put cooked food in shallow pans or containers.
Loosely cover the pans with a lid, plastic wrap or
Label and date.
Use foods within 3-4 days after cooking. If you
cannot use the food in this time frame, freeze the
Reheating How To’s
Reheat leftovers to 1650F or hotter.
Never reheat food in a crock pot or
a slow cooker. This type of
equipment takes too long to heat
food to safe temperatures.
Throw out leftovers that are more
than 3-4 days old.
ACTIVITY -- White Powders
You will be able to better
understand why it is so important
to properly label chemicals.
Why is it so important to sanitize?
Cleaning is the removal of dirt, food and
grease from a surface with soap or detergent
and water. However, sanitizing is killing
harmful microorganisms that can be on a
surface even if it looks clean. This is done
with a sanitizing solution.
Unscented household bleach is an
approved sanitizer. It is inexpensive and
Your Environmental Health Specialist
can tell you about other sanitizers that
are also approved for use.
Making Your Own Sanitizer
Mix 1 tablespoon of unscented
household bleach with 1 gallon of
warm (not hot) water.
Store mixture in a labeled spray
bottle. It can be used for up to one
week as long as the bottle is stored
in a cool, dark and safe area.
What do I need to sanitize?
Before and after preparing food, always
clean and sanitize:
tables used for eating
How do I sanitize a surface?
1. Clean surface with warm soapy water
2. Rinse with clean water
3. Thoroughly saturate the surface with sanitizing solution
Spread the sprayed solution over the surface with a clean
4. Air dry. Do not rinse off the sanitizing solution
Do not use this method to sanitize dishes, glassware, utensils,
cutting boards or pot and pans
How do I sanitize in a sink?
Glassware, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, pots
and pans need to be cleaned in a threecompartment sink. This is called immersion
1. Wash dishes in one sink
2. Rinse in the second sink, and
3. Sanitize in the third sink for at least 1 minute.
4. Air dry.
A dishwasher can be used if its final rinse
temperature is 1650F or hotter.
Before snacks and meals:
Always wash yours and the children’s hands
before meal time with soap and water.
Use utensils, not your hands to serve food.
Clean and sanitize counters and tabletops
before serving food.
Serve hot food hot and cold food cold.
Do not put food on the table before the
children are ready to eat.
Serving How To’s
Do not let children share the same utensil or
dish when eating.
Provide a clean and sanitized utensil for each
serving bowl and dish.
Don’t lay utensils on the table as
they could become contaminate the
food when the utensil is used to
Serving How To’s (continued)
Do not let children serve themselves from large
boxes of cookies, cereal or crackers. Children’s
saliva can contain harmful bacteria that can be
transferred to other children. If children serve
themselves, harmful microorganisms on their hands
can contaminate the food in the box.
Serving How To’s (continued)
Do not allow children to eat food that has fallen
to the floor.
The same goes for utensils. Use a new one or
clean and sanitize the “fallen” one.
Many centers just use disposable utensils and
After Snack and Mealtime:
Throw out uneaten food that has been served but
not eaten. (Don’t put them back in the jar or bag.)
Never put milk or other beverages that have been
poured into glasses or cups back in their original
The same goes for any other food utensil that has
been put within reach or sneezing distance of the
What can I save?
Unpeeled fruits – wash
before putting them in
ACTIVITY — Toss or Save
Which of the following foods must be thrown out after
Juice in a cup
Unopened cartons of milk
Half eaten peanut butter sandwich
Spaghetti that is sitting on a stovetop burner
Food Safety for Field Trips
Safe foods for outings are:
Peanut butter sandwiches
Fresh unpeeled fruit
Commercially dried fruit
Unopened cans of fruit or pudding
Which foods must I keep cold?
Milk or foods that contain milk
Peeled or cut fruits and vegetables
Opened cans of fruit
Keep them cold by using insulated lunch bags with a
frozen gel pack or with a frozen juice box, a leakproof container of water that has been frozen. Also
Infants and Toddlers
After opening, label the can or jar with the name and date
and time opened. Refrigerate un-served portions in the
Throw away unused portions within 36 hours after
opening, but one day (24 hours) is preferred.
Observe the “use by’ date on the unopened jars of baby
Never feed the baby directly out of the jar. The bacteria in
the saliva will make the food contaminated and make the
Ask parents to label each container with the
name of the child and date pumped.
Refrigerate and use breast milk within one
Remind parents to refrigerate breast milk in a
Refrigerate and use prepared formula
within one day
Throw out leftover formula in the bottle
after the feeding or after one hour.
Never add new formula to half-filled
bottle of formula. Bacteria and viruses in
baby’s saliva could be in the old formula
and contaminate the new formula.
Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D.,
Food Safety Education Specialist, NCSU
Shari Farless, Extension Agent,
Chowan County Center of the NCCES
Sharon Kinion, former Extension Agent,
Washington County Center of the NCCES