Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.9 Food Safety

4.9.0 Staff Restricted from Food Preparation and Handling

Anyone who has signs or symptoms of illness, including vomiting, diarrhea, and infectious skin sores that cannot be covered, or who potentially or actually is infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites that can be carried in food, should be excluded from food preparation and handling. Staff members may not contact exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and should use suitable utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, single-use gloves, or dispensing equipment. No one with open or infected skin eruptions should work in the food preparation area unless the injuries are covered with nonporous (such as latex or vinyl), single use gloves.

In centers and large family child care homes, staff members who are involved in the process of preparing or handling food should not change diapers. Staff members who work with diapered children should not prepare or serve food for older groups of children. When staff members who are caring for infants and toddlers are responsible for changing diapers, they should handle food only for the infants and toddlers in their groups and only after thoroughly washing their hands. Caregivers/teachers who prepare food should wash their hands carefully before handling any food, regardless of whether they change diapers. When caregivers/teachers must handle food, staffing assignments should be made to foster completion of the food handling activities by caregivers/teachers of older children, or by caregivers/teachers of infants and toddlers before the caregiver/teacher assumes other caregiving duties for that day. Aprons worn in the food service area must be clean and should be removed when diaper changing or when using the toilet.

Food handlers who are ill can easily transmit their illness to others by contaminating the food they prepare with the infectious agents they are carrying. Frequent and proper handwashing before and after using plastic gloves reduces food contamination (1,2,4).

Caregivers/teachers who work with infants and toddlers are frequently exposed to feces and to children with infections of the intestines (often with diarrhea) or of the liver. Education of child care staff regarding handwashing and other cleaning procedures can reduce the occurrence of illness in the group of children with whom they work (1,2,4).

The possibility of involving a larger number of people in a foodborne outbreak is greater in child care than in most households. Cooking larger volumes of food requires special caution to avoid contamination of the food with even small amounts of infectious materials. With larger volumes of food, staff must exercise greater diligence to avoid contamination because larger quantities of food take longer to heat or to cool to safe temperatures. Larger volumes of food spend more time in the danger zone of temperatures (between 41°F and 135°F) where more rapid multiplication of microorganisms occurs (3).

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Situations that Require Hand Hygiene Handwashing Procedure Assisting Children with Hand Hygiene Training and Monitoring for Hand Hygiene Hand Sanitizers
  1. Cowell, C., S. Schlosser. 1998. Food safety in infant and preschool day care. Top Clin Nutr 14:9-15.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2000. Keeping kids safe: A guide for safe handling and sanitation, for child care providers. Rev ed. Washington, DC: USDA.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 2009. 2009 Food code. College Park, MD: FDA.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2010. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.