Food Safety (Child Care Manual)

By handling food safely, you can prevent or reduce the burden of food-borne illness in your child care centre.


Food handlers trained in safe food-handling practices and principles can quickly respond to unsafe food handling practices, food recalls, consumer complaints and food-related issues arising from floods, fires or power outages.

Back to top

Dishwashing methods

Wash dishes and utensils according to one of these manual or mechanical methods.

Manual dishwashing method

Two-compartment sink

Use this method only if the cooking utensils, pots and pans are not used by the children.

  • First sink: Wash dishes and utensils with soap and warm water, then rinse dishes and utensils with clean water
  • Second sink: Sanitize dishes and utensils by fully immersing them in a sanitizing solution.

Three-compartment sink

  • First sink: Wash dishes and utensils with soap and warm water
  • Second sink: Rinse dishes and utensils with clean water
  • Third sink: Sanitize dishes and utensils by fully immersing them in a sanitizing solution

Mechanical dishwashing method

Commercial dishwasher

If you operate a small child care centre, talk to your public health inspector about the need for a commercial dishwasher.

  • Dishwashers must have a temperature gauge for verifying water temperatures
  • Wash water must be maintained at a temperature between 60 C to 71 C
  • Sanitizing can be accomplished by:
    • A rinse cycle that sprays clean water at a temperature not lower than 82 C for at least 10 seconds
    • A rinse cycle that sprays an acceptable sanitizing solution

Acceptable sanitizing solutions

The following sanitizing solutions can be used on contact surfaces or when dishwashing plates and utensils:

  • Chlorine solution of not less than 100 parts per million (1:500 mixture of bleach and water) for at least 45 seconds
  • Quaternary ammonium compound solution of not less than 200 parts per million for at least 45 seconds
  • Commercial sanitizers used in accordance with manufacturer’s directions, in consultation with your centre's Public Health Inspector
  • Sanitizer test strips are required to ensure that your sanitizing solution is the correct strength

Back to top

Storing food

Refrigerated storage

  • Refrigerate all potentially hazardous foods such as meat, poultry, fish, cooked rice and dairy products because they can grow disease-causing organisms. They must be maintained at temperatures of 4 C (40 F) or colder.
  • Arrange food containers in the refrigerator so that air circulates freely. Don't overcrowd the refrigerator.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all interior surfaces, racks, and trays of the refrigerator

Dry storage

  • Keep non-refrigerated food storage areas clean, dry, well ventilated and adequately lighted
  • Rotate foods in storage so that the oldest food is in front (first in, first out)
  • Store foods on shelves at least 15 centimetres (six inches) above the floor to prevent cross contamination and allow for cleaning
  • Use non-absorbent, easy-to-clean shelving
  • Routinely clean and sanitize all food storage areas
  • Store opened products in sealed vermin-proof containers
  • Label all food containers
  • Keep non-food items, especially cleaning products, insecticides, mops and brooms, in a separate area away from foods

Food source

  • Ensure foods come from inspected and approved sources only
  • Do not serve foods prepared in private homes. An exception is allowed for a parent that provides an individual meal to their child. Breastmilk, milk or formula from a private home can be supplied to a designated child provided it is properly stored and labelled.

Food samples

  • It is recommended that child care centres take samples of each potentially hazardous food from every meal and keep them for 10 days. Food samples may be kept by your food caterer on your behalf. Keep a letter on site from your food caterer regarding this arrangement.
  • Freeze or refrigerate food samples
  • During a gastroenteritis outbreak, keep food samples until the outbreak is declared over by Public Health
  • Each food sample should be 100 grams (3.5 ounces)

Waste disposal

  • Ensure garbage containers are able to store all garbage that is generated between collection days
  • Choose durable plastic or metal garbage containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Routinely clean and sanitize all garbage containers

Back to top

Last updated: Oct. 5, 2022

Page Feedback Did you find what you were looking for today?