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Food Safety

Information and links about food safety during food preparations and transfer, and California Uniform Retail Food Facility Law (CURFFL) requirements.

Overview

The National School Lunch Act requires that Program Operators have a food safety program in place based on hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) principles. The food safety program applies to any facility or part of a facility in which food is stored, prepared, or served for the purpose of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), NSLP Afterschool Snack Program, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Programs. For specific guidance and information regarding the California Retail Food Code, please contact your local environmental health department.

Definitions

HACCP

Acronym for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. A prevention-based food safety system that identifies and monitors specific food safety hazards that can adversely affect the safety of food products.

Food Facility

  • Food facility means an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption at the retail level, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) an operation where food is consumed on or off the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge for the food, and (2) a place used in conjunction with the operations described in this subdivision, including, but not limited to, storage facilities for food-related utensils, equipment, and materials.

  • Food facility includes permanent and nonpermanent food facilities, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) public and private school cafeterias, (2) restricted food service facilities, (3) licensed health care facilities, except as provided in paragraph 12 of subdivision (c) of the Health and Safety Code External link opens in new window or tab. , (4) commissaries, (5) mobile food facilities, (6) mobile support units, (7) temporary food facilities, and (8) vending machines.

Food Handler

An individual involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility.

California Retail Food Code or CalCode

Alternate names commonly used to refer to parts of the California Health and Safety Code.

Compliance

The California Department of Education (CDE) monitors compliance with food safety during the administrative review (AR). ARs occur approximately every three years. The CDE provides technical assistance when the standards are not met. There will be an off-site assessment (OAT) and an on-site review. Please see the following AR guidance:

AR Off-site Assessment Tool (OAT) Guidance

Sponsors are required to fill out the OAT prior to the on-site review. To download the OAT guidance in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) External link opens in new window or tab. , select School Nutrition Programs (SNP), select Applications, select Download Forms, and select Form ID SNP 58 AR.

AR Guidance Chart

Once the OAT is completed, the AR reviewer conducts an on-site review to validate the information submitted in the OAT and to observe the operation of programs in selected schools. Prior to the on-site AR, the state reviewer sends sponsors the AR Guidance Chart, so sponsors can prepare all required documents for the on-site AR. To download the guidance chart in the CNIPS, select SNP, select Applications, select Download Forms, and select Form ID SNP 42. For food safety information, refer to Page 19.

USDA AR Manual 2018–19

USDA FNS provides general guidance to state agencies on the areas of review. For complete transparency and to download the AR Manual in the CNIPS, select SNP, select Applications, select Download Forms, and select Form ID MANUAL AR. For food safety information, refer to pages 178–189.

For more information regarding ARs, visit the CDE SNPs web page.

Trainings

In-Person Workshops

To register for a food safety workshop, please use the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Training Registration External link opens in new window or tab. web page. Instructions for registration can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) CNIPS Training Registration web page. The Nutrition Services Division will continuously update this section as new trainings become available.

For assistance with online registration or if you are unable to attend and need to cancel, please contact the CNIPS Help Desk on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phone at 800-952-5609, Option 6, or by email at CNIPS@cde.ca.gov. If possible, please provide your registration confirmation number when canceling your registration.

Online Courses

Operations

Course
Number
Course Name Training Topic Target Audience

Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN)

(External Resource)

Food Safety in Schools External link opens in new window or tab.

Food Safety

Food Service Director and Staff

ICN

(External Resource)

Food Safety and HACCP Principles

Food Service Director and Staff

016

SFSP Food Safety

Food Safety

Summer Meal Program Operators

Additional Online Training Databases

To find additional online training databases, visit the:

Resources

General Resources

Best Practices

General Resources

Resource Description

USDA FNS Food Safety External link opens in new window or tab.

Provides information on food safety and security related to the federal Child Nutrition Programs and other federal assistance programs administered by the USDA.

USDA FNS Food and Nutrition Information Center External link opens in new window or tab.

Provides a directory to credible, accurate, and practical resources for consumers, nutrition and health professionals, educators, and government personnel.

U.S. Health and Human Services Food Safety External link opens in new window or tab.

This site is a gateway to federal food safety information.

International Food Information Council External link opens in new window or tab.

Communicates science-based information on food safety and nutrition to health and nutrition professionals, educators, journalists, government officials, and others providing information to consumers. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage, and agricultural industries with the purpose of bridging the gap between science and communications through partnerships to assist in translating research into understandable and useful information.

Institute of Child Nutrition Food Safety Resources External link opens in new window or tab.

Fact sheets, training courses, posters, and workshops for all things food safety.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code External link opens in new window or tab.

Local, state, tribal, and federal regulators use the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code as a model to develop or update their own food safety rules and to be consistent with national food regulatory policy.

California Department of Public Health Retail Food Code External link opens in new window or tab.

Provides information on retail food regulation and statutes. It also houses the California Retail Food Code (CalCode). The portion of the California Health and Safety Code known as the CalCode contains the structural, equipment, and operational requirements for all California retail food facilities.

California Department of Food and Agriculture California Small Farm Food Safety Guidelines External link opens in new window or tab.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) provides CNP Operators with guidance to comply with applicable local land use and zoning restrictions and use best practices to grow, harvest, and distribute the community foods they are producing.

Best Practices

Resource Description

Food-Safe Schools Action Guide External link opens in new window or tab.

TheFood-Safe Schools Action Guidewas developed by the FNS Food Safety Branch, theInstitute of Child Nutrition, and theCenter for Food Safety in Child Nutrition Programsto provide tools to school nutrition staff to create food safety cultures in their communities.

USDA HACCP Guidance Manual External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

This document serves as USDA guidance for the implementation of HACCP-based food safety programs in schools participating in the NSLP or the SBP.

California Department of Education Raw Sprouts Guidance

Guidance regarding the use of raw sprouts in the CNPs per the California Department of Health, Food and Drug Branch requirements.

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Product Dating External link opens in new window or tab.

Provides information on food product dating.

Policy

The USDA issues policy memoranda related to food safety in the CNPs. When merited, the California Department of Education (CDE) will release a subsequent management bulletin (MB) to include state specific policy guidance and/or further explain or clarify the topic.

Calendar Year 2019

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number

3/2019

CDE

Food Safety

Food Safety Certification Requirements

SNP-05-2019

Calendar Year 2014

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number

2/2014

CDE

Food Safety

Mandatory Food Safety Inspections—Reminder

SNP-09-2014

Calendar Year 2013

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number

4/2013

USDA

Food Safety

Enhancing the School Food Safety Program FAQs External link opens in new window or tab.

SP 37-2013

Calendar Year 2005

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference

9/2005

CDE

Food Safety

Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 External link opens in new window or tab.

General Information Sheet #15

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are food handlers in the CNPs subject to the California Food Handlers Card requirements?

Public schools, private schools, and residential facilities are exempt from the California Food Handlers Card requirements (with the exception of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, which are subject to the local food handler programs).

Is the use of latex gloves prohibited in CNPs food service?

Yes, per California Health and Safety Code, sections 113961 and 113973, food facilities and retail food establishments are required to use nonlatex utensils, including nonlatex gloves.

Is there any regulation that prohibits storage of a food item in a school walk-in freezer, when it is not purchased by school food service and it is not for the use of school food service?

Yes, food items are required to be obtained from approved sources (California Health and Safety Code, sections 113945.1 and 113947).

Are nonfood service persons or staff permitted in the school food service or food facility area?

No, persons that are not necessary to the food facility operation are not permitted in the food preparation, food storage, or warewashing areas (California Health and Safety Code External link opens in new window or tab., sections 113945.1 and 113947).

Is the district required to pay for the Food Safety Certification training/certificate?

Since the Food Safety Certification is required by both the federal Food and Drug Administration Food Code and the California Health and Safety Code, it is an allowable cafeteria fund expense. That said, this would be a local level decision regarding the procurement of this requirement. Some districts require each site supervisor/manager to be food safety certified as part of their position requirement, and others provide this training and certification to their staff. Ultimately, it is up to the district to determine which option works best for their organization.

For a school that has multiple sites, can the Program Operator take the manager certification program exam, pass, and then train the staff at all sites?

No. Each site (food facility) is required to have at least one food safety certified facility owner or employee. The only exception to this requirement is if the Program Operator has obtained a variance from their local environmental health department (LEHD). This variance must be kept at each site (food facility) that the LEHD has granted the exception.

Is a current health permit required for a feeding site to be approved to participate in the School Nutrition Programs?

Yes, school food authorities must have a valid health permit for each feeding site whether the food is prepared on site or is received from an outside source. Per California Health and Safety Code, Section 113789(b) school cafeterias are considered a food facility. California Health and Safety Code, Section 114381(a) and (c) requires that a food facility has a valid health permit before they can serve food and the permit once issued is nontransferable. A permit shall be valid only for the location, type of food sales, or distribution activity and, unless suspended or revoked for cause, for the time period indicated. If a feeding site changes its physical address, a new health permit is required.

Contacts

Subscribe to the School Nutrition Program Mailing List.

Follow @CDENutrition on Twitter.

Questions:   Mia Bertacchi | mbertacchi@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-1261
Last Reviewed: Monday, June 26, 2023
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