Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.9 Food Safety

4.9.0 Dishwashing in Centers

Centers should provide a three-compartment dishwashing area with dual integral drain boards or an approved dishwasher capable of sanitizing multi-use utensils. If a dishwasher is installed, there should be at least a two-compartment sink with a spray unit. If a dishwasher or a combination of dish pans and sink compartments that yield the equivalent of a three-compartment sink is not used, paper cups, paper plates and plastic utensils should be used and should be disposed of after every use.
These are minimum requirements for proper cleaning and sanitizing of dishes and utensils (1).

A three-compartment sink is ideal. If only a single- or double-compartment sink is available, three freestanding dish pans or two sinks and one dish pan may be used as the compartments needed to wash, rinse, and sanitize dishes.

An approved dishwasher is a dishwasher that meets the approval of the regulatory health authority. Dishwashers should be carefully chosen. Depending on the size of the child care center and the quantity of food prepared, a household dishwasher may be adequate. Because of the time required to complete a full wash, rinse, and dry cycle, household domestic dishwashers are recommended for centers that do only one load of dishes after a snack or meal. Commercial dishwashers are required for some sizes of centers in some locales. Centers are responsible to comply with the requirements of the local regulatory health agency.

The length of time to wash dishes in commercial dishwashers is three to four minutes. Commercial dishwashers that operate at low water temperatures (140°F to 150°F) are recommended because they are more energy-efficient. These would be equipped with automatic detergent and sanitizer injectors. When choosing a dishwasher, caregivers/teachers can consult with the local health authority or state/local nutritionist/registered dietitian to ensure that they meet local health regulations.

Household dishwashing machines can effectively wash and sanitize dishes and utensils provided that certain conditions are met. The three types of household dishwashers are:
  1. Those that lack or operate without sanitizing wash or rinse cycles;
  2. Those that have sanitizing wash or rinse cycles and a thermostat that senses a temperature of 150°F or higher before the machine advances to the next step in its cycle;
  3. Those that have a sanitizing cycle and a thermostat as in (b) but advance to the next step in its cycle after fifteen minutes, if the temperature required to operate the thermostat is not reached.

All three types of household dishwashers are capable of producing the cumulative heat factor to meet the National Sanitation Foundation time-temperature standard for commercial, spray-type dishwashing machines. Dishwasher types (a) and (c) are capable of doing so only if the temperature of their inlet water is 155°F or higher.

The temperature of a hot water supply necessary for operating a dishwasher conflicts with what is considered a safe temperature to prevent scalding (no higher than 120°F). Installing a separate small hot water heater exclusively for dishwasher type (a) or (c) is a way to meet this requirement.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start
RELATED STANDARDS Water Heating Devices and Temperatures Allowed
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2002. Making nutrition count for children - Nutrition guidance for child care homes. Washington, DC: USDA. http://www/