Maintaining high standards of food safety in the education sector
Food safety is a key concern in the education sector across all types of learning environments. Students at TAFE and university campuses often eat from canteens, cafes or other outlets available. Children at early learning centres and schools will bring their own food and drink into school or eat meals prepared within the school itself. It is worth remembering that some of these issues are likely to be covered by legislation, such as the Victorian Food Act 1984 which classifies school canteens as Class 2 food premises which must be able to demonstrate food safety.
Commercial kitchen supplies are a vital resource when it comes to following the published guidance from bodies like the Victorian Education Department and their school policy for safe food handling. They state for instance that utensils or disposable gloves are required for handling food which is cooked or ready to eat. Cuts or wounds on hands and arms must be covered with an appropriate coloured bandage or wound strip. Beyond the use of bandages, wounds on the hand must also be covered with disposable gloves. The guidance also makes clear that in order to maintain food safety disposable gloves must be properly used, meaning in practice they must be replaced hourly at a minimum or for each change of task such as moving between raw food and ready to eat food. The importance of regular hand washing is also highlighted, particularly before putting on gloves.
Similarly, commercial kitchen supplies such as food labels often form an important part of establishing and maintaining a safe working environment in the education sector. The Department guidance specifically highlights that, in terms of safety around food storage, once tinned foodstuffs have been opened, they should be transferred to an appropriate container and labelled with the vital date information. Related to these specific storage requirements, the policy for school food safety also includes the overarching requirement that food is stored at the correct temperatures to minimise the risk of bacteria developing and should not be kept in storage for too long. Again, food labels can provide an easy and convenient way to establish and maintain compliant safe food practices and procedures such as the ‘First In, First Out’, or FIFO, food rotation system.
Where students are bringing their own packed lunch food and drink into school, bodies such as Food Safety Australia and New Zealand point out the potential risk of perishable food remaining in the ‘danger zone’ temperature between 5° and 60°C for 4 hours where bacteria may develop. A frozen drink or ice block might be helpful in these circumstances or, if a fridge or cooler can be made available, food labels can once again be a convenient tool for easily identifying lunches with name and date information.
Contact us to find out more about commercial kitchen equipment to help improve food safety in your educational setting.