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Food Safety

Certain pathogens can be transmitted via food. To prevent this, proper food handing practices need to be followed at child care centres. The symptoms of food borne illness may vary but the most common symptoms include fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms normally begin within hours after eating contaminated food, in some cases, they may take days or weeks to appear. Children are at a higher risk of developing foodborne illness due to their immune system still developing. 

Centres either prepare food on-site themselves or receive food from a catering service. Either way, the centres must ensure the food they provide is from an inspected source. All catering companies in Ontario are required to be inspected by Public Health and Public Health is required to disclose inspection reports online. Depending on the location of the catering kitchen will determine which public health unit is responsible for the inspection of the kitchen.  All kitchens providing food to the public in Simcoe County and District of Muskoka can be found at Inspection Connection

When food is being delivered to the centre (either by caterer or groceries), there must be controls for temperature.

  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
  • Centres must verify the temperature of all hazardous food after the catering company drops it off.
    • Where hot food is delivered below 60C and cold food is delivered above 4C and the centre cannot verify how long the food has bee at those temperatures, the food is not to be accepted. 
  • If the length of time can be verified and is within two hours, the centre can reheat the food to the original cooked temperature and hot hold until serving. 
  • If centres are not immediately serving the food when it is delivered, they need to have their hot holding equipment prepared before the caterer arrives (ie: oven/chaffing dishes preheated). 

If parents require food from home to be served to their child (including expressed breast milk ), this is supported if the centre is capable of following the same food safety practices noted above, can store it separate from food intended for other children and ensure it is labelled appropriately (child's name and date of drop off). Food sent from home is to be consumed only by the child it is intended for. Regarding expressed breast milk, it must be stored in a designated container that is clearly labeled with the child's name, date of expression and delivery. Store it in a refrigerator or freezer when received and keep separate from other foods. Supervise children drinking expressed breast milk from a cup to prevent unintended consumption by other children. Discard any leftover expressed breast milk not consumed by the intended child. Practice hand hygiene before and after handling expressed breast milk. 

At least one person at the centre must have an up-to-date Food Handling Certification and be on-site while food is being prepared and served.  It is recommended to have multiple individuals with their Food Handling Certification for coverage purposes. For more information, see our Food Safety and Food Handling Certification Training pages. 

Food Recalls: Operators must be aware of the foods that are being served to children within their child care centre. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit advises child care operators to subscribe to Health Canada's Recalls and Safety Alerts. Food recall warnings and allergy alerts can prevent food borne illnesses or a serious allergic reaction. 

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