NIOSH logo and tagline

Food Preparation and Service-Part 3


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
School Checklists logo

Self-Inspection Checklist

Optional Information
Optional Information
Name of school:
Date of inspection:
Career-Technical program/course/room:
Signature of inspector:


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.

check mark symbol Questions marked with this symbol may require the help of an outside expert.

  1. Health and Disease Controls Food Service Personnel

  2. Are persons affected with any communicable disease, boils, infected wounds, sores, acute respiratory infection, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea prevented from working in food areas or with other food workers?

    Hygiene Practices Food Service Personnel

  3. Is personal jewelry prohibited where it could contaminate or become incorporated into food?
  4. Is the use of tobacco products by food handlers and dishwashers prohibited?

    Handwashing Food Service Personnel

  5. Are separate handwashing facilities provided at convenient locations away from food preparation areas?
  6. Do employees and students wash their hands and exposed arms with soap and warm water before starting work; during work as necessary; and after smoking, eating, drinking, visiting the toilet, or handling raw food of animal origin?
  7. Are employees’ fingernails clean and neatly trimmed?


  8. Is clean clothing worn by all persons, including dishwashers?
  9. Are extra, clean uniforms or clothing available if clothing becomes soiled?
  10. Are effective hair restraints properly used to prevent contamination? For example, a hat must be sitting on the back of the head, and hair must not hang out loosely.
  11. Are single-use gloves used for only one task and discarded when damaged, soiled, or when interruptions occur in the operation?
  12. If slash-resistant gloves or cloth gloves are used, do they only come in contact with food that is subsequently cooked?Note: Slash-resistant gloves may be used with ready-to-eat food if the gloves have a smooth, durable, and nonabsorbent outer surface; or if the gloves are covered with a smooth, durable, nonabsorbent glove, or a single-use glove.
  13. Are multi-use equipment and utensils made with materials that are safe, corrosion-resistant, nonabsorbent, smooth, easily cleaned, durable, dent resistant, and sturdy?

    Design, Construction and Materials Food Equipment, and Utensils

  14. Is equipment inspected periodically and replaced, if necessary, with safe materials?
  15. Are food-contact surfaces of equipment and utensils (e.g., plastic mixing bowls) smooth; free of breaks, open seams, cracks and pits; easily accessible for cleaning; and in good condition?
  16. Are cutting boards easily cleaned and removable, nontoxic, nonabsorbent, smooth, and free of cracks, crevices, and open seams? Cutting boards need to be washed, rinsed, and sanitized since they come into direct contact with potentially hazardous foods and raw fruits and vegetables.
  17. Is the filter of the ventilation hood readily removable for cleaning and replacement?
  18. Are shelves that are not intended for food contact free of unnecessary ledges, projections, or crevices? Some shelves are elaborately designed, very deep within a cabinet, or screwed or nailed into place (rather than sealed). The above conditions make housekeeping difficult.
  19. Are all food-contact surfaces that are NOT intended for in- place cleaning readily accessible for manual cleaning and inspection?
  20. Are sinks and drain boards self-draining? Self-draining may occur by pitching it toward one of the sink compartments.

    Equipment installation and Location

  21. Is equipment (including ice makers and ice storage equipment) located away from underexposed or unprotected sewer lines, leaking water lines, or open stairwells that may cross-contaminate equipment or ice?
  22. Is nonportable equipment placed on tables sealed to the table or elevated by at least four inches?
  23. Is floor-mounted equipment sealed to the floor, or is the clearance between floor and equipment at least 6 inches?

    Equipment and Utensil Cleanliness

  24. After each use, is all tableware thoroughly cleaned to sight and touch?
  25. After each use, are all kitchenware and food-contact surfaces used in the preparation, serving, display, or storage of food thoroughly cleaned to sight and touch?
  26. Have all nonfood contact surfaces been thoroughly cleaned as necessary to be free of dirt and in sanitary condition?
  27. Are cloths used for wiping food contact surfaces only used for that purpose to prevent cross-contamination?

    Equipment and Utensil Sanitation

  28. After each use, has all tableware been sanitized?
  29. If a spoon or other utensil has been used for tasting, is it sanitized before being used again?
  30. Have all kitchenware and surfaces that come in contact with potentially hazardous food or raw fruits or vegetables been sanitized after use or when operations are interrupted? For example, is a slicer or frozen dessert machine sanitized after the operation is closed and the next day before use?

    Methods and Facilities for Manual and Machine Washing and Sanitizing

  31. Before washing, have all equipment and utensils been flushed, scraped, or when necessary, soaked?
  32. Are dish tables, drainboards, or racks of adequate size to handle soiled items?
  33. Do dish tables, drainboards, or racks provide adequate space and distance to avoid interference of soiled items with clean items?
  34. Does washing remove foreign matter?
  35. Has the rinsing process effectively removed detergent solution and foreign matter?
  36. Are cleaned equipment and utensils properly sanitized?
  37. Have all sanitized utensils or food contact surfaces been allowed to air dry?

    Methods and Facilities for Manual Washing and Sanitizing

  38. For manual washing, are three sinks provided for the wash-rinse-sanitize cycle?
  39. Are sink compartments large enough to permit complete immersion of the equipment and utensils intended to be cleaned?
  40. Do all sink compartments have provided at convenient locations a supply of hot and cold potable running water?
  41. Have all sinks been cleaned before use?
  42. Have equipment and utensils been thoroughly rinsed free of detergent and abrasives with clean water in the second compartment?
  43. Have equipment and utensils been thoroughly sanitized in the third sink?
  44. If using hot water (heat) as a sanitizer, is the water maintained at or above 170ºF and tested periodically with a thermometer?
  45. If hot water is used as a sanitizer, have equipment and utensils to be sanitized been allowed to be completely immersed for at least 30 seconds in water that is 170ºF?
  46. check mark symbol If chlorine is used as sanitizer, does the solution contain at least 50 parts per million of available chlorine as a hypochlorite and at a temperature of at least 75ºF?
  47. check mark symbol If iodine is used as sanitizer, does the solution contain at least 12.5 parts per million available iodine, a pH not higher than 5.0 and at a temperature of at least 75ºF?
  48. If chlorine or iodine is used as a sanitizer, are equipment and utensils immersed for at least one minute?Note: Other approved sanitizers are acceptable. Consult the regulations for requirements.
  49. Is a test kit or other device available that accurately measures the parts per million concentration of the sanitizer?Note: Sanitizers are often available in tablet form. When released in the water the water turns color. The color can then be matched against a chart.
  50. Is a thermometer accurate to +/- 3ºF available?


Rinse: clear water that fulfills specified heat requirements.

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.