Childcare Center Guidance

Food Safety

Keep food out of danger. Bacteria grows rapidly between 40ºF and 140ºF.

How Do You Keep Food Safe From Bacteria?

  • Store food below 45ºF or keep them warm above 130ºF.
  • Store raw meat in a meat keeper.
  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before beginning food preparation and every time after handling raw foods.
  • Defrost meat, seafood and poultry in the refrigerator, microwave, or in a watertight plastic bag submerged in cold water (the water must be changed every 30 minutes).
  • Never defrost at room temperature.
  • Always use a clean cutting board. Wash cutting boards with hot soapy water and scrub brush. Then sanitize them in the dishwasher or 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.
  • Before opening canned foods, wash the top of the can .
  • Do not keep leftovers at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Use a thermometer to insure proper internal temperature.

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Child Care Safety and Sanitation Inspections

The condition of the child care facility and equipment and the way the child care staff handles food can cause injury or illness to children. While all the requirements for safe food handling, proper sanitation, and safety are too numerous to list here, there are some requirements and recommendations that are basic to safety and sanitation.

Safe food handling:

  • Keep hot foods hot (> 130ºF) and cold foods cold (< 45ºF). Improper food temperatures allow bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Keep an approved probe thermometer handy to check temperatures.
  • Do not keep leftovers at room temperature; refrigerate them or discard them.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially before starting work and after, eating, drinking, using the bathroom, etc.
  • Use only food from approved sources. Do not use home canned foods or products that have not come from an inspected provider.
  • Cook foods properly. Do not serve undercooked foods, especially hamburger and poultry.
  • Food should be served in bite-size pieces to prevent choking hazards.
  • Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator, microwave, or under cold running water. Do not defrost foods at room temperature.
  • Keep all utensils and equipment properly cleaned by washing, rinsing, sanitizing and air-drying them. Sanitizing solution can be made by adding 1 Tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of water.

Useful Internet Sites:

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:
Partnership for Food Safety Education

Playground safety:

  • Insure that all playground equipment is approved for use and meets all requirements for construction and safety.
  • Keep all playground equipment in good condition; repair or replace any equipment that is weak, broken or in poor condition.
  • Keep the playground free of tripping hazards, choking hazards, or conditions where a child can become entrapped.
  • Provide a cushioning material (sand, wood chips, etc.) in areas around playground equipment to help soften falls.
  • Provide approved fencing around the playground.
  • Be sure any swimming pools meet the requirements of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Bureau of Water.

Useful Internet Sites:

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

Child Safety

  • Insure that all toys that children can place in their mouths are routinely washed and sanitized.
  • Insure that cribs and playpens have slats that are no more than 2-3/4 inches apart. Make sure that the pads are in good condition and fit the crib or playpen.
  • Use safety glass in exterior windows and doors when these are less than 32 inches above the floor. Apply decals at eye level on all clear glass doors.
  • Keep cleaning supplies and materials in places that are inaccessible to children. Keep any toxic materials stored in a locked cabinet or closet.
  • Keep children's medications in a locked container. Refrigerated medications must be kept in a locked container in the refrigerator.
  • Keep children's personal belongings, such as combs, brushes, towels, etc. individually separated by using lockers, baskets, etc.
  • Insure that changing tables are cleaned and sanitized after each use.
  • Insure that children's hands are washed after using the toilet.
  • Insure that any hot water provided at equipment (lavatories, sinks, etc.) used by children is not hot enough to burn them.

Facility sanitation

  • Outdoor areas must be kept neat, clean and free of litter.
  • Pets (dogs or cats) can be kept in child care facilities, as long as they pose no threat to the children, are properly cared for, and have had required rabies inoculations. Pets, however, cannot be allowed in areas where food preparation occurs.
  • Facilities should have adequate lighting, and all walls, floors, and ceilings must be in good condition and clean.
  • Surfaces (floors, walls, countertops, etc.) should be constructed of smooth and easily cleanable materials (Formica, tile, etc.). Carpet can be used (except in toilet rooms and food preparation areas) as long as it is kept clean and is in good condition.
  • Landings must be provided at all exterior doors and hand rails must be provided when there are two or more steps.
  • Equipment used by children (such as mats) must be routinely cleaned and kept in good condition. These items should be stored off the floor.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) licenses child care facilities in South Carolina. For more information about licensing, regulations and requirements for these facilities, please contact your local county DSS office, or call the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Child Care Licensing Division at (803) 898-9020.


Facilities Health