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Food Supplies: Source, Protection, Wholesomeness & Misbranding


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 apply in your State. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also publishes a model Food Code that has been adopted by some States. The FDA Food Code might also serve as an additional reference. 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 Supplies: Source, Protection, Wholesomeness, and Misbranding

  2. Is all food in a public food preparation or service area from a source that complies with applicable State and local regulations?
  3. Is all food protected against contamination and spoilage during handing, packaging, and storage and while in transit?
  4. Is food prepared at home prohibited in a public food preparation or service area?
  5. Is food inspected before use to ensure it is clean, wholesome, free from spoilage, free from adulteration and misbranding, and safe for human consumption?
  6. Does all hermetically sealed food (such as a sealed baby food jar) in a public food preparation or service area come only from approved food processing establishments?
  7. Are all fluid milk; fluid milk products; frozen milk products; liquid, frozen, and dry eggs; and egg products pasteurized?
  8. Are pasteurized fluid milk and fluid milk products in a public food preparation and service area from a source that is in compliance with applicable State and local regulations?
  9. Are reconstituted dry milk and dry milk products only used in instant desserts and whipped products, or for cooking and baking purposes?
  10. When nondairy creaming, whitening, or whipping agents are reconstituted,
    1. Has the storage container be sanitized?
    2. Is the storage container covered?
    3. Is the storage container one gallon or less in capacity?
    4. Has the reconstituted product been cooled throughout to 45ºF or below within four hours of preparation?
  11. Are all milk, milk products, and milk substitutes used for drinking purposes served from their original containers or from an approved bulk milk dispenser?
  12. If multi-use pitchers are used to serve milk, milk products or substitutes,
    1. Is their use restricted to service in beverages such as coffee, tea, cocoa, and in other items such as cereals and fruits?
    2. Are the unused portions discarded after their use?
    3. Is adding fresh product to the pitchers or the mixing of previously served product prohibited?
    4. Is the milk, fluid milk products, or substitutes kept at 45ºF or below while in the pitchers?

    Frozen Desserts

  13. Is a license obtained from the State health department for serving frozen desserts such as ice cream, soft frozen desserts, ice milk, sherbets, ices, and mix?
  14. Are frozen desserts such as ice cream, soft frozen desserts, ice milk, sherbets, ices, and mix in compliance with all applicable State and local laws and regulations?


  15. Does all shellfish come from a State department of health or U.S. FDA currently certified dealer? (Names, addresses, and certification numbers should be confirmed with your local health authority).
  16. Does each container of unshucked or shucked shellfish have a tag that includes the dealer certification number, name of dealer, address of dealer, harvest site or bed number, harvest date, type of shellfish and quantity in package?
  17. Are fresh and frozen shucked oysters, clams, and mussels packed in nonreturnable containers?
  18. Are packages of fresh and frozen shucked oysters, clams, and mussels permanently marked with the name of the certified packer and the abbreviated name of the State?
  19. Are shellstock and shucked shellfish stored in the container in which they are received until the container is empty?
  20. Are required tags or stubs left on the shellfish container until the container is emptied?
  21. Are required tags or stubs on shellfish containers immediately marked with the date of receipt?
  22. Are required tags or stubs from shellfish containers kept on file for not less than 90 days? (to track possible occurrences of shellfish hepatitis)


  23. Are eggs clean, with shell intact and without cracks or excessive checks?
  24. Is blending or mixing of shell and liquid contents of the egg prohibited?
  25. Are pooled eggs cooked immediately?
  26. Is the use of raw eggs prohibited as a major component in the preparation of uncooked or undercooked ready-to-eat foods?


  27. If an emergency has occurred, has the person in charge kept potentially hazardous food from being held outside of the safe temperature range?

    Food Preparation–General

  28. Have precautions been taken to prevent food contamination from dust, flies, rodents, and other vermin; unclean utensils and work surfaces; unnecessary handling; coughs and sneezes; flooding, drainage, and overhead leakage; poisonous and toxic materials; and any other source?
  29. Are refrigeration, hot food storage, and display facilities located to assure required temperatures during storage, preparation, transportation, display, and service?
  30. Does each refrigerator have an indicating thermometer accurate to +/- 3ºF?
  31. Does the refrigerator thermometer provide the true air temperature (not the blower temperature)?
  32. Does each hot food facility storing potentially hazardous food have an indicating thermometer accurate to +/- 3ºF?
  33. If the hot food thermometer is not built in, is a product thermometer readily available?
  34. If a stem-type thermometer is used, is it first sanitized to prevent contamination? (An example of contamination is when a thermometer is removed from a pocket or drawer and is put directly into the product without being sanitized)
  35. Has a stem-type thermometer been used to monitor the proper internal cooking, cooling, reheating, hot holding, or cold holding temperatures of all hazardous foods? All stages must be monitored to prevent foodborne illness.

    Food Temperatures

  36. Is perishable food maintained at temperatures low enough to prevent spoilage?
  37. Is potentially hazardous food kept at 45ºF or below or 140ºF or above?
  38. Has frozen food been maintained in its frozen state (0ºF or below) until removed from storage for preparation?
  39. Are large quantities of potentially hazardous food that are to be refrigerated after preparation rapidly cooled (120ºF to 70ºF within two hours) using one of the following methods?
    1. Shallow pans that are 4 inches deep or less.
    2. Quick-chilling refrigeration equipment.
    3. External water circulation to the food container.
  40. Has potentially hazardous food during the cooling process been covered or the containers stacked?
  41. Has the temperature of any working container of mayonnaise or salad dressing been kept at 45ºF or below? (If no, then discard after three hours.)
  42. When potentially hazardous food is served hot and is placed on display, except for rare roast beef, is the display temperature at 140ºF or above?
  43. When rapidly prechilled food is put on display, is the temperature maintained below 45ºF, or between 45ºF and 55ºF for no more than four hours?
  44. If hollandaise and other sauces are held at temperatures between 45ºF and 140ºF, are the ingredients fresh and is the sauce discarded after three hours?
  45. Is frozen food defrosted using one of the following procedures?
    1. In refrigerated units at a temperature below 45ºF
    2. Under potable running water of a temperature of 70ºF or below
    3. In a microwave oven
    4. As part of the conventional cooking process


Indicating thermometer: a thermometer that can reveal temperature by one or two degrees, as opposed to a a thermometer that reads “safe” or “danger zone.”

Pooled eggs: more than one egg mixed together in one container.

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.