Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.9 Food Safety

4.9.0 Preparation for and Storage of Food in the Refrigerator

All food stored in the refrigerator should be tightly covered, wrapped, or otherwise protected from direct contact with other food. Hot foods to be refrigerated and stored should be transferred to shallow containers in food layers less than three inches deep and refrigerated immediately. These foods should be covered when cool. Any pre-prepared or leftover foods that are not likely to be served the following day should be labeled with the date of preparation before being placed in the refrigerator. The basic rule for serving food should be, “first food in, first food out” (1-3).

In the refrigerator, raw meat, poultry and fish should be stored below cooked or ready to eat foods.

Covering food protects it from contamination and keeps other food particles from falling into it. Hot food cools more quickly in a shallow container, thereby decreasing the time when the food would be susceptible to contamination. Foods should be covered only after they have cooled. Leaving hot food uncovered allows it to cool more quickly, thereby decreasing the time when bacteria may be produced.

Labeling of foods will inform the staff about the duration of storage, which foods to use first, and which foods to discard because the period of safe storage has passed.

Storing raw meat, poultry and fish on a dish or in a pan below ready-to-eat foods reduces the possibility that spills or drips from raw animal foods might contaminate ready-to-eat food.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Maintaining Safe Food Temperatures Precautions for a Safe Food Supply
Appendix V: Food Storage Chart
  1. Benjamin, S. E., ed. 2007. Making food healthy and safe for children: How to meet the national health and safety performance standards – Guidelines for out of home child care programs. 2nd ed. Chapel Hill, NC: National Training Institute for Child Care Health Consultants.
  2. Enders, J. B. 1994. Food, nutrition and the young child. New York: Merrill.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2002. Making nutrition count for children - Nutrition guidance for child care homes. Washington, DC: USDA. http://www/