The Food-Safe Schools Action Guide • The National Coalition for Food-Safe Schools

Home | Assess | Assemble Team | Take Action | Action Guide Tools | Search

Food Service Superhero

Food Safety for Foodservice Professionals

Put your expertise to work

Foodservice staff are the school authority on safe food handling. And while you can control food safety efforts in the cafeteria, there is still risk from food that comes into school from other places or that is handled with unwashed hands. Use your expertise and authority to spread the message about food safety throughout the school—to the staff, students, and their families. More detail for each of the following recommendations can be found by reading the Food-Safe Schools Action Guide.

  1. Have at least one manager certified in food safety and sanitation in your school cafeteria. 
  2. Train all foodservice staff in basic food safety practices, including cooking foods to proper temperatures, upon employment and periodically thereafter.
  3. When foods are delivered to your school, immediately assess their temperature and freshness.
  4. Keep hot foods hot (135°F or above) and cold foods cold (41°F or below).
  5. Reheat food to 165°F and verify temperatures with a food thermometer.
  6. Prevent cross-contamination (i.e. keep foods apart to avoid the transmission of pathogens from one food item to another).
  7. Wash your hands at appropriate times.
  8. Establish appropriate procedures and documentation for the control and safe handling of food.
  9. Develop and distribute clear guidelines for foodservice managers in the event of a suspected foodborne illness outbreak.
  10. Encourage local health department inspections and self-inspections of food safety practices and facilities where food is stored, prepared, held, or served.
  11. Ensure foodservice equipment is working properly and, if necessary, see that it is repaired, replaced, or taken out of service.
  12. Provide a reliable communication system from food source to foodservice and vice versa to deal with food recalls.
  13. Serve as a food safety resource for your school by providing food safety information, demonstrations, or workshops and promoting your school’s food safety efforts and accomplishments. 

The school nutrition association’s Keys to Excellence is an online assessment tool to help improve and benchmark a school’s foodservice operations

USDA’s Food and nutrition service food biosecurity checklist helps schools protect against intentional contamination of food.

New Team Member Resource Available! Check Out the Team Member In-Depth Modules

Learn more about your role in ensuring a food-safe school and find useful tips and resources to help you implement these recommendations. Check out the special school foodservice staff how to section (Word document).

Check out the Web sites below for more great resources.

  • Action Guide Resources for Foodservice Professionals

  • Healthy School Meals Resource System
  • Food and Nutrition Information Center
    Provides information to persons working in USDA's Child Nutrition Programs. Sections include training center, resource cafe, Mealtalk listserve, regulations and food safety.

  • School Foodservice Demonstration Plan
  • Iowa State University Extension
    HACCP resources specifically for school foodservice.

  • Responding to a Food Recall
  • National Food Service Management Institute
    Print materials, speaker slides and web cast from an August 2002 satellite conference in which a panel discussed reasons for food recalls, roles of manufacturers, and responsibilities of school foodservice personnel.

  • Food Code
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes the Food Code, a model that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and food service segment of the industry (restaurants and grocery stores and institutions such as nursing homes). Local, state, tribal, and federal regulators use the FDA Food Code as a model to develop or update their own food safety rules and to be consistent with national food regulatory policy.

  • Biosecurity Checklist for School Foodservice Programs: Developing a Biosecurity Management Plan (PDF)
  • USDA Food and Nutrition Service
    Checklists and advice in PDF format geared towards helping schools create a school foodservice biosecurity management plan.

  • Food Safety Checklist (Word)
  • USDA Food and Nutrition Service
    This is a companion tool to “Serving It Safe” Revised 2005.



Home | Assess | Assemble Team | Take Action | Action Guide Tools | Contact Us