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Food Preparation and Service-Part 4


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. A yes answer to a question indicates that this portion of the inspection complies with the OSHA and EPA standard, or with a non-regulatory recommendation. 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. Methods and Facilities for Washing and Sanitizing Machine Washing and Sanitizing

  2. When spray-type dishwashing machines are used and the machine does not perform prewashing, are equipment and utensils flushed or scraped?
  3. When spray-type dishwashing machines are used, are equipment and utensils placed in racks or in trays to permit unobstructed application of detergent wash and clean rinse water and free draining?
  4. Is the washing machine working properly, including jets, nozzles, and soap dispensers?Note: Check flow pressure gauges and final cleanliness, and periodically have the machine serviced.
  5. When hot water is used as the sanitizing agent, does the final rinse reach 160ºF at the plate?Note: Acceptable wash and final rinse temperatures vary with the type of machine. Consult the regulations for more details. To ensure proper sanitization, the temperature at the final rinse is the most important. Other approved sanitizing agents are acceptable. Consult the regulations for requirements.
  6. Are thermometers located at each cycle, in good repair, and accurate to +/- 3ºF?
  7. Is the dishwashing machine cleaned thoroughly at least once a day?
  8. Storage and Handling of Cleaned Equipment and Utensils Are food contact surfaces of equipment and utensils handled in such a manner as to prevent contamination?Note: For example, food contact surfaces should not be stored on lower racks or shelves where they are subjected to floor moisture and dust.
  9. Are clean spoons, knives, and forks touched only by the handles to prevent cross-contamination?
  10. Are clean bowls, cups, and glasses handled so that fingers and thumbs do not contact interior surfaces or rims?
  11. Are sanitized equipment and utensils stored at least six inches from the floor and in a clean, dry place?
  12. Are sanitized equipment and utensils or single-service articles prohibited from storage in toilet rooms, toilet vestibules, or garbage or mechanical rooms?

    Single-Service Articles

  13. Are single-service articles made from clean, sanitary, nontoxic, safe materials?
  14. Are single-service articles free of odor, color, taste, or other contamination that could be imparted to the food?
  15. Are single-service articles stored at least six inches above the floor on pallets, dollies, or racks, and in closed cartons or containers?
  16. Are single-service articles stored away from overhead sewer lines or water lines?
  17. Unless prewrapped, are bulk single-service articles offered with food contact surfaces inserted into holders?

    Sanitary Facilities and Controls

  18. Is the water supply from a potable public or private water supply system?
  19. Are hot and cold water under pressure offered in all areas where food is prepared and where equipment, utensils, or containers are washed?


  20. Is ice made from potable water?
  21. Once ice is made, is it handled, transported, and stored in a sanitary manner so it is protected against contamination?
  22. Are ice crushers covered when not in use?
  23. Are sanitary containers and utensils provided for ice storage and dispensing?
  24. Is ice for cooling food and food containers used only for that purpose and not human consumption?
  25. Size, Installation, and Maintenance of Plumbing Does plumbing properly convey sewage and liquid wastes from the establishment to the sewerage or sewage disposal system?
  26. Is plumbing installed to preclude the possibility of backflow and backsiphonage?


  27. Do refrigerators drains (including floor drains of walk-in refrigerators), ice storage bins, and ice machines have air gaps or air breaks between them and the drainage system to prevent backflow?Note: Direct connection is prohibited.
  28. Do drain lines of equipment discharge properly and without flooding?

    Toliet Facilities

  29. Are toilet facilities adequate (enough water closets), conveniently located, and accessible to the students and employees all the time?
  30. Are doors to toilet rooms tight fitting and self closing?Note: If vermin such as flies enter an establishment, they can be mechanical vectors. Cross-contamination can occur if flies come in contact with body fluids and then with clean equipment, food contact surfaces, or food.
  31. Are toilet facilities (including toilet rooms and fixtures) clean, in good repair, and free of objectionable odors?
  32. Is toilet tissue supplied at each toilet ALL THE TIME?
  33. Are signs posted to remind staff to wash their hands before returning to work?

    Handwashing Facilities

  34. Are handwashing facilities of adequate size, in good repair, and conveniently located?
  35. Is a handwashing sink in the food preparation area?
  36. Is water available between 90ºF and 105ºF?
  37. Is an adequate supply of hand cleansing soap or detergent available, as well as sanitary towels or another approved hand-drying device?
  38. Is a waste receptacle provided?


Rinse: clear water that fulfills specified heat requirements.

Single service articles: cups, containers, lids or closures, plates, knives, forks, spoons, stirrers, paddles, straws, place mats, napkins, doilies, wrapping materials, and all similar articles that are intended by the manufacturers and generally recognized by the public to be for one usage only and then discarded.