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Safe Food Handling Practices

Section III of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-265) amended section 9(h) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act by requiring school food authorities to implement a food safety program for the preparation and service of school meals served to children in the school year beginning July 1, 2005. The program must be based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles and conform to guidance issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2005-06, we implemented the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principles approach to food safety. The three main points dealt with are sanitation, temperature control and written standard operating procedures. While many of the practices outlined in this program were already being done in our operations, we now have a systematic approach to documentation of the procedures being followed.

Our food services department is committed to providing safe, wholesome food to our customers. All of our central office staff, cafeteria managers, and General School Nutrition III employees who cook or prepare foods are required to have a current sanitation certificate through the state of Illinois Department of Public Health as a condition of employment. Many of our general employees, while not required, have also opted to receive this important training and have successfully completed the course of study and have taken the required refresher courses to keep their licenses current. We firmly believe this education to be of paramount importance in our operations.

All of our cafeterias are inspected a minimum of 2 times each school year by the health departments of the municipalities in which the schools are located. We are proud to say that our cafeterias continue to receive scores in the high 90's with some having 100% scores.

Safe food handling should be a primary concern for cooking at home as well. We have heard many cases recently involving food borne illness outbreaks. We generally think of food borne illness happening as a result of eating in larger eating establishments mainly because of the large number of people affected. Since many of the symptoms of food borne illness are flu-like symptoms, some cases never get reported as people believe they have the flu. One of the major causes of food borne illness is improper food handling which can happen at home as well as in public eating establishments. With increased education regarding safe food handling practices, many food borne illness incidents can be prevented. We have provided some links that will provide you with some basic information for you to use at home to help prevent food borne illness in your own environment. There are also sites to visit that explain exactly what a food borne illness is and some of the more common ones with their causes. We hope you find this information helpful.

Be Food Safe Basics - Separate, Clean, Cook, Chill

Be Food Safe Home
Information provided by the USDA and the Partnership for Food Safety Education. Provides very basic guidelines for the 4 steps involved in safe food handling. PDF format.

This link takes you to the Be Food Safe site where you can explore other bits of information regarding food safety.

Is It Done Yet Facts Page

Is It Done Yet Temperature Chart?

Learn how to use a food thermometer. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

This is a simple chart that provides the USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures for cooking meat, fish, and poultry items. PDF format. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Basics for Handling Food Safely Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential in preventing food borne illness. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness By keeping everything clean that comes in contact with food, consumers can be assured they are helping to do their part to Fight BAC!® Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The Big Thaw: Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers Learn about the three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The Color of Meat and Poultry What factors affect the color of meat and poultry? What do color changes mean in terms of food safety? Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Cooking Safely in the Microwave Oven This fact sheet lists the basics for safe microwave cooking or reheating.Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Food Product Dating Background information on what dates do and don't tell you about the safety of your food. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Washing Food: Does it Promote Food Safety? How to prevent cross-contamination; safe cleaning methods. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Safe Food Handling of Take-Out Foods Keep take-out and delivered foods safe and store leftovers properly. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Safe Healthier Home The link will take you to the Center for Disease Control Ounce of Prevention campaign. Here you will find information on easy and low cost steps you can take in your home to stop many infectious diseases. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need to Know Essential information about causes and prevention, and a table of common foodborne bacteria. Provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

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