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Food Preparation and Service-Part 2


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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Food preparation and service regulations are issued by State health departments and vary from State to State. This checklist uses the New Jersey Department of Health regulations as a model for assessing food preparation and service areas. Please consult your own State health department for the regulations that are applicable in your State. This checklist applies to school cafeterias and, in general, any area or operation that prepares or serves food to the public with or without charge. Although not directly applicable to general classroom activities, this checklist will be helpful in reviewing general food safety practices. Definitions of terms in bold type are provided at the end of the checklist.

  1. Food Preparation

  2. Have all equipment and surfaces been washed and sanitized after contact with raw meat, poultry, and unpasteurized liquid eggs and fish?
  3. Have hands been carefully washed after contact with any raw meat, poultry, and unpasteurized liquid eggs and fish?
  4. Has proper equipment been provided to minimize direct manual contact with food?
  5. Have all raw fruits and raw vegetables been thoroughly washed before being mixed with other ingredients? (Raw fruits and vegetables come in contact with soil that may have contained bacteria, spores, or been chemically treated.)
  6. Except for poultry, stuffing with meat, pork, and rare whole roast beef, is potentially hazardous food cooked to heat all parts of the food to a temperature of at least 140ºF?Note: Eggs prepared for individual service for immediate consumption may be served raw or cooked to a product temperature of less than 140ºF.
  7. When cooking poultry, is stuffing prohibited when the weight of the poultry exceeds two pounds before cooking?
  8. When cooking poultry and stuffing with meat, have all the parts of the food reached at least 165ºF with NO interruption of the initial cooking process?
  9. When cooking pork, have all the parts of the food been heated to at least 150ºF in a conventional oven or to at least 170ºF in a microwave oven?
  10. Has the internal temperature been taken of the rare whole roast beef with a sanitized stem-type thermometer to determine if it has reached 130ºF or above?
  11. If food is reheated, has it been done rapidly and within two hours to 165ºF or higher throughout before being served?
  12. Are steam tables, bainmaries, warmers, and similar hot food holding facilities prohibited for the rapid reheating of potentially hazardous foods?
  13. Are all utensils, equipment, and surfaces thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before use?
  14. Are custards, cream fillings, and similar products kept at or below 45ºF, or above 140ºF except during necessary periods of preparation and service?
  15. Are custards, cream fillings, and similar products rapidly cooled to 45ºF or below promptly after preparation?
  16. Are food containers stored six inches off of the floor (except for cased food) packaged in waterproof containers, not exposed to moisture, and on movable dollies, pallets, or skids?

    Food Storage

  17. Have measures been taken to avoid cross contamination from food that requires no further washing or cooking with food that requires washing or cooking? (For example, separate purchased prepared salad from raw fruits or raw meat.)
  18. Is the wet storage of shellfish prohibited?

    Food Display and Service

  19. Is prepared, unwrapped food on display protected by cleanable counters, service line or salad bar protector devices, cabinets, sneeze guards, display cases, containers, or similar types of protective equipment?
  20. Is food, once served to a customer, not served again?
  21. Is wrapped food (other than potentially hazardous food) that has been unwrapped or become unwholesome discarded?
  22. Is potentially hazardous food in temporary buffets, smorgasbords, or salad bars held at safe temperatures?
  23. Is the quantity of food in temporary buffets, smorgasbords, or salad bars limited to allow a fast turnover?
  24. Are fresh supplies of food to temporary buffets, smorgasbords, or salad bars provided to ensure proper food rotation?
  25. Are unwrapped bulk foods in self-service containers easily cleanable, covered, 18 inches or less in depth, and at least 30 inches off the floor?
  26. Are tongs, forks, spoons, and other proper utensils provided for service to ensure minimum contact with food by customers and employees?
  27. Does each container of potentially hazardous food have its own dispensing utensil?
  28. Is potentially hazardous food displayed in such a way as to prevent cross contamination between raw and ready-to-eat products?
  29. If food dispensing is interrupted, are service utensils stored in the food with the dispensing utensil handle extended out of the food, stored clean and dry, or stored in running water?
  30. Are sugar, condiments, seasonings, and dressings provided only in sanitary dispensers or in individual single service packages?

    Food Transportation

  31. Is all potentially hazardous food maintained at or below 45ºF OR at or above 140ºF during transport, except if food is to be consumed within one-half hour of plating?
  32. Is all frozen food kept at a temperature low enough to remain frozen during transportation?
  33. Is all food transported in covered containers or completely wrapped, except for hanging meats and raw agricultural products that will be prepared for consumption later?
  34. Is the transportation vehicle clean, free of vermin, and in good condition? For example, no holes are in the floor that may allow exterior contaminates (e.g., mud) to enter the vehicle.

    Toxic Materials

  35. Is the storage of toxic materials in food areas limited to only those materials used to maintain sanitary conditions?
  36. Are toxic materials (e.g., pesticide) stored in a designated and identified separate area (such as a cabinet) and away from food?
  37. Are poisonous polishing materials prohibited?
  38. Are containers of toxic materials prominently and distinctively marked or labeled for easy identification as to contents?
  39. Are bactericides and cleaning compounds used in such a manner as to prevent toxic residue on food contact surfaces?
  40. Are toxic compounds (such as rodenticide) in powdered form distinctively colored so it is not mistaken for food or food condiments?
  41. Are insecticides or rodenticides applied only by State-certified applicators and in full compliance with the manufacturer’s labeling?Note: Often a vermin problem is incorrectly treated by the owner or another person. The law prohibits a noncertified person to treat for vermin infestation within a food preparation or service area.


Rinse: clear water that fulfills specified heat requirements.

Sanitary dispenser: a container that, when used with condiments, does not contaminate remaining products when condiment is dispensed.

Stem-type, product thermometer: a thermometer with a dial that reveals temperature by one or two degrees. The shaft on the thermometer can enter the product to ascertain temperature.

Potentially hazardous food: any food that consists in whole or in part of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacea, or other ingredients (including synthetic ingredients) in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms. The term does not include clean, whole, uncracked, odor-free shell eggs or foods that have a pH level of 4.6 or below or a water activity (aw) value of 0.85 or less.