3 Ways In Which School Canteens Can Promote Food Safety And Health

Food Safety

Parents send their children to school with high hopes for education, discipline, and overall personality development. Besides everything else, schools are responsible for promoting healthy eating habits among their students.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has established the National School Lunch Program so that children can have low-cost, nutritionally balanced meals each day. However, it seems like the good agenda is just a theory, seldom the common practice across American schools.

In 2022, a nationwide school lunch testing project revealed that most American school lunches are toxic and unsafe for consumption. The food items were found laden with toxins with extremely thin nutrition density for growing kids.

School canteens must take immediate action to promote food safety and health. In this article, we will discuss three ways to do this. 

Maintaining Cleanliness At All Times

The number-one requirement for food safety is keeping the space clean. This includes the area where food is prepared as well as the area where it is to be eaten. A shocking discovery was recently made across school cafeterias in New York City.

At least 75% of them had become breeding grounds for roaches, mice, flies, and rats. These pests become the main source of food-borne illnesses among children. School canteens must remain clean at all times, with the process taking place multiple times a day.

This includes keeping doors and windows sealed shut, proper disposal of trash, and usage of food-safe pest control. The chopping boards must be sanitized after each use and kept sparkling clean. Also, the same chopping board must not be used to chop vegetables and meats.

Even the countertops, walls, ceiling, and floors must be kept spotless. Dirt in these areas can severely impact health and hygiene. Let’s take an example – most school canteens pay little attention to dirty floors. But these surfaces can get easily contaminated and attract pests, germs, dirt, etc.

The common excuse is the large surface area that makes it challenging to clean floors multiple times a day. But, given the food traffic, this is necessary. Schools can invest in commercial floor scrubbers to make it happen. They need not worry about purchasing a new machine as large equipment for rent is easily available.

According to SitePro Rentals, even compact and reliable walk-behind floor strippers and easy-maintenance scrubbers can be rented for a day or up to four weeks at a time. With just three investments a year, keeping the canteen floors clean will become a breeze.

Introducing Nutritious Meals

Every school canteen must have a menu full of delicious and nutritious meals that encourage children towards healthy eating. Healthier meals will lead to better retention in memory, increased focus, and improved classroom behavior.

Sadly, weak rules have brought ultra-processed Lunchables on school trays. As children half-heartedly munch on these unhealthy eatables, it’s no surprise that they dread meal times or going to school.

American schools can learn a thing or two from lunches provided by schools across Finland, France, and Spain. Those meals are often balanced, with a good serving of whole milk, fruits, raw vegetables, meats, soup, and bread or rice.

Instead of highly processed items, it’s time for school canteens to provide multigrain sandwiches, fruit salads, unsweetened yogurt, curries, and soups to their students. Moreover, easily spoiled and hazardous foods like seafood, raw eggs, pasta, raw meats, cooked rice, and dairy products should be handled with extra care.

Finally, food storage and use are key factors in the meal’s nutritional content. An example would be improper defrosting of cold cuts, which leads to bacterial growth. It is best to plan and defrost the refrigerator at least a day in advance. Other important steps include –

  • Proper sealing of meats in the refrigerator and placing them on the bottom shelf always
  • Letting the hot food items cool down before placing them inside the refrigerator
  • Maintaining proper temperatures for specific food items. For instance – milk should be kept cold at all times.

Hiring A Food Safety Supervisor

The Australian law requires all schools to hire a food safety supervisor for better hygiene and health. This is a smart decision, and schools across the US must adopt this practice. The hired supervisor will have the required credentials to handle all food safety actions within the school canteen.

Schools must keep the following points in mind while choosing the professional –

  • They must be certified based on relevant competency codes.
  • They must possess a certification that makes them eligible to work as a food safety supervisor.
  • The food safety supervisor need not always stay on the premises, but they must be a phone call away.

This professional will fulfill responsibilities like –

  • Ensuring the canteen is sticking to legal food safety requirements
  • Ensuring all canteen staff members understand the importance of food safety
  • Maintaining food hygiene, storage, and safety compliance
  • Staying up-to-date with food safety laws

In the final analysis, school canteens must understand that children are highly vulnerable to food-borne illnesses. This makes it essential to take proper steps for safe food storage and consumption. 

Schools must run random assessment checks to ensure canteen staff practices personal hygiene, stores foods properly, and maintains cleanliness. Only then can parents have the assurance that their children are in safe hands. 

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Deepanwita has always considered writing as the ultimate weapon to share every thought an individual ambles through. For her writing is not just an activity it’s a motivation for the scarred mind. She loves writing in genres like fashion, lifestyle, literature etc.

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