Food Safety Self-Inspection for Child Care Facilities

A self-inspection checklist to aid child care facilities in providing safe food for their clients.

Julie A. Albrecht, Extension Food Specialist

Conduct a self-inspection of your food preparation skills by answering the following questions. Concentrate on one section at a time. Choose a time when food preparation is in progress. Check either “yes” or “no.” Questions receiving a “no” answer indicate an area that you need to change.

Personal Hygiene

    Are food handlers well groomed (clean clothing, restrained hair and clean hands, including fingernails)?
    Do food handlers wash their hands frequently (after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing and after handling raw foods, dirty dishes or garbage)?
    Do you and your staff follow proper hand-washing procedures?
    Are food handlers’ hands free from cuts and sores?
    Do food handlers wear plastic gloves or other waterproof protection if cuts and sores are present?
    Are you and your staff generally in good health?

Purchasing, Receiving, and Inspecting Food

    Do you buy foods from reliable suppliers?
    Do the foods you buy meet your child care center’s standards?
    Does someone check the food for adequate frozen (0°F) or refrigerated temperatures (40°F), damage or insect infestation, expiration dates and other quality indicators before accepting them?
    Is the food receiving area clean?

Food Storage

    Do you store raw foods separately from cooked foods?
    Are the food storage areas clean?
    Is the dry food storage area dry and between 50°F and 70°F?
    Do you store foods to ensure a first-in, first-out use? Do you label food packages and containers to indicate contents and date of storage?
    Do you maintain the refrigerator at or below 41°F and the freezer at or below 0°F?
    Do you have an accurate thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer?

Food Service Equipment

    Is the equipment in good working condition?
    Are food handlers following proper procedures for operating the equipment?
    Do you and staff members properly clean and sanitize equipment after each use?
    Do staff members follow proper dishwashing (manual or automatic) procedures?
    Are food handlers properly cleaning and sanitizing cutting boards and food contact work surfaces after each use?

Food Preparation

    Do you thaw frozen foods in a microwave, under refrigeration, or under cold running water? Do you cook foods directly in the frozen state?
    During food preparation, are food handlers keeping food in the danger zone (41o-135°F) for less than two hours?
    Do you cook food items to the proper internal temperatures (165°F for 15 seconds for chicken, 145°F for 15 seconds for pork and 155°F for 15 seconds for ground beef and meatloaf)?
    Do you use a thermometer to check the temperature of a cooked product or refrigerated food?
    Do you keep and serve hot foods at 135°F or above and cold foods at 41°F or below?
    Do you store hot foods in shallow containers and refrigerate immediately?
    Do you wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before serving?
    Is there minimal handling of foods during preparation?
    Do food handlers taste food during preparation in a sanitary manner? Do they use a separate utensil?
    Do you reheat leftovers to 165°F and serve immediately?

Infant Food Preparation

    Do you use proper sanitizing procedures for infant bottles?
    Do you properly sanitize the equipment you use to prepare infant formulas?
    Do you check the expiration dates on the products before use?
    Do you use safe water for infant formula preparation?
    After preparing formulas, do you label bottles with the children’s names and the date?
    Do you cover the formula and refrigerate it after preparation?

Do you use formulas made from powdered formula within 24 hours?

    Do you use formulas made from concentrated liquid formula within 48 hours?
    Do you discard the partially consumed milk or formula remaining in the bottle?
    Do you remove baby food from jars with a clean spoon and serve it in dishes to infants? (If food remains in the jar, tightly close, date, and store it in the refrigerator. Use opened containers within 72 hours.)
    Do you warm food just before eating? Does food remain in the danger zone (41°-135°F) for less than two hours?
    Do you dispose of the uneaten food on plates?

Serving Foods

    Do children wash their hands before and after eating?
    Do you clean and sanitize tables, chairs, and high chairs?
    Do food handlers use utensils instead of hands to serve food?
    Do food handlers wear plastic gloves while serving food?
    Do you place silverware on the tables in a way to prevent contamination?
    Are replacements available if children drop their silverware on the floor?

Do you use separate cloths and sponges for the children, table spills and floor spills?


    Are the kitchen and eating areas clean?
    Is the garbage kept covered and located away from food preparation, food storage and the children’s play area?
    Do you keep the restrooms clean and supplied with liquid soap and single-use towels or forced-air blowers?
    Do you empty wastebaskets regularly?
    Is the diapering area away from the food preparation area?
    Do you sanitize and keep the diapering area clean?

Do you discard soiled diapers promptly?

    Do you keep live animals away from food preparation and serving areas?

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Index: Foods and Nutrition
1994, Revised April 2007

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