Most people know that maintaining food safety standards is important to prevent cross-contamination and foodbourne illness. In busy places, like schools, it is even more important that both food handlers and staff are aware of specific food safety risks. Schools are subject to inspections from the FSA and it is legally required that people who work with food in schools are properly trained.
There are a couple different ways schools have to focus on food safety—this includes the food they serve and making sure food allergies are considered.
The most important part of food safety in schools is to create a food safety culture. That means encouraging as much education as possible for anyone involved in school nutrition programs, or creating a program for school cafeteria inspections specifically. NCCO International has food rotation labels that help keep track of when food is best to be used, as well as what should be used first – both as part of our DateIt™ Food Safety labels program. DateIt™ products can greatly increase your school foodservice operation’s effectiveness. Staff will know what food is safe to eat, what should be used first over others, who prepped what along with what foods contain potential allergens for consumers.
Food safety in schools does not just mean school provided lunches. Many students bring bag lunches. Bacteria can grow at temperatures between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius. Make sure to use cold packs to keep food cold and insulated containers for warm food.
It is also important to consider classroom food safety. Food allergies are becoming more and more common and can be life threatening for both kids and adults. Here are a few tips to consider when it comes to classroom food safety:
- Classrooms can be Food-Free. It might be the easiest route to just keep all food out of the classroom. That way, no one has to worry or think about what’s allowed in and what’s restricted.
- Restrict Identified Allergens from Classrooms. If snacks are not taken out of the classrooms completely, it needs to be well-known by all students, teachers, and parents which foods are dangerous allergens. Those foods must be restricted from snacks, parties, or other activities.
- Find Fun and Inclusive Ways to Celebrate. It is a wonderful gesture to bring treats and snacks into the classroom for parties and holidays, but that gesture can marginalize or be dangerous to some kids. Instead, try extra recess or celebrate with games and free-time.
- Educate Kids. Inclusion and acceptance can go a long way in helping any child adapt. If everyone knows that there are just some foods that are dangerous for their classmates, understanding and recognition can happen.
With these tips and tricks, as well as NCCO International’s food safety labels, parents, students and school staff can focus on having a great school year instead of worry about food sickness!