Student nutrition programs must prepare, store and serve food in a manner that follows the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (493/17) including the amendments that came into effect January, 2020. Toronto Public Health’s goal is to prevent foodborne illness by educating food handlers and enforcing regulations during inspections. This is especially important for student nutrition programs because children are at greater risk of foodborne illness

Equipment Required:

The equipment required to safely prepare and serve food at student nutrition programs is determined by:

  • the amount of onsite food preparation. The risk of introducing bacteria and/or allowing bacteria to grow on food increases when there are more steps involved in preparing and serving food. This is the case with both hazardous and non-hazardous foods
  • the category of food prepared and/or served (see definitions of food categories below)
  • whether the program uses disposable or multi-use cutlery, cups and plates

Food Categories include:

Low-risk/non-hazardous food:

  • Does not support the growth of disease-causing microorganisms
  • Is not potentially hazardous
  • Examples: whole fruits and vegetables and most baked goods (with no custard)

Pre-packaged food:

  • Has been packaged off-site, somewhere other than where it is being served
  • Examples: eggs, raw meat, frozen foods

Pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food:

  • Has been packaged off-site, somewhere other than where it is being served AND does not require further processing or cooking before eating
  • Examples: apple sauce, hummus, yogurt, cereal, washed lettuce, canned beans

Ready-to-eat food:

  • Can be eaten as is, without any additional processing or cooking
  • Examples: yogurt, cheese, muffin, apple, banana, sliced bread
  • Can also include sandwiches, salad or any other food that was prepared, then stored on site until served

High-risk/hazardous food:

  • Has ideal conditions for bacterial growth – rich in protein or starch, neutral pH and high moisture content
  • Examples: cheese, yogurt, eggs

“Ready-to-eat food”, “pre-packaged food” and “pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food” categories include foods in either single serve or bulk packaging.

How to Determine your Food Safety Equipment Requirements

If your program:

  • Does not prepare food (no preparation includes no portioning, no cutting)
  • Distributes only:
    • low-risk/non-hazardous food items
    • pre-packaged food items or
    • a combination of low-risk/non-hazardous food items and pre-packaged food items
  • Does not use multi-use serving and preparation utensils (e.g., knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs)
  • Uses single-use (disposable) cutlery, cups and plates
Then your site requires:
  • That food handlers wash their hands as often as necessary
  • Access to a sink to wash produce
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer if serving foods needing cold storage
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage
Example: Morning meal
  • Banana
  • Granola bar
  • Single-serve yogurt

Using a single-use spoon for the yogurt eliminates step to wash, rinse and sanitize cutlery.

If your program:

  • Prepares only low-risk/non-hazardous food items
  • Serves only:
    • low-risk/non-hazardous / food items, pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food items or
    • a combination of low-risk/non-hazardous food items and pre-packaged ready-to-eat food items
  • Uses multi-use serving and preparation utensils (knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs)
  • Uses single-use (disposable) cutlery, cups, plates
Then your site requires:
  • That food handlers wash their hands as often as necessary to prevent the contamination of food or food areas
  • Utensils that are used are properly cleaned and sanitized
  • 2-compartment sink or a mechanical dishwasher and, ideally, a food preparation sink.
  • If a 2-compartment sink or a mechanical dishwasher is not available, one sink and a dish wash container or bin can be used for the third sink in the sanitizing step.
  • Hand wash sink can be used for dishwashing provided food prep and dishwashing are done at different times.
    • Ensure the sink used for handwashing is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before using it for dish washing.
    • Food prep cannot be taking place at the same time as dishwashing
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer if serving foods needing cold storage
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage
Example: Morning Meal
  • Individually portioned baby carrots
  • Half of a whole wheat muffin
  • Single serve yogurt

The baby carrots are individually portioned and the muffin is simply sliced and packaged on site before serving to students. A single-use spoon is provided to eat the yogurt.

If your program:

  • Prepares only low-risk/non-hazardous food items
  • Serves only:
    • low-risk/non-hazardous food items, pre-packaged ready-to-eat food items or
    • a combination of low-risk/non-hazardous food items and pre-packaged ready-to-eat food items
  • Uses multi-use serving and preparation utensils (knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs)
  • Uses multi-use (reusable) cutlery, cups, plates
Then your site requires:
  • That food handlers wash their hands as often as necessary
  • Utensils that are used are properly cleaned and sanitized
  • A 3-compartment sink or a mechanical dishwasher and, ideally, a food preparation sink.
  • If a 3-compartment sink or a mechanical dishwasher is not available, two sinks and a dish wash container or bin can be used for the third sink in the sanitizing step.
  • Hand wash sink can be used for dishwashing as long as food prep and dishwashing are done at different times.
    • Ensure the sink used for handwashing is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before using it for dish washing.
    • Food prep cannot be taking place at the same time as dishwashing.
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer if serving foods needing cold storage
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage
Example: Morning Meal
  • Individually portioned baby carrots
  • Half of a whole wheat muffin
  • Single serve yogurt

The baby carrots are individually portioned and the muffin is simply sliced and packaged on site before serving to students. A multi-use (reusable) spoon is provided to eat the yogurt.

 If your program:

  • Washes, cuts and portions high-risk/hazardous food onsite
  • Uses multi-use serving and preparation utensils (knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs)
  • Uses single-use (disposable) cutlery, cups and plates
Then your site requires:
  • That food handlers wash their hands as often as necessary
  • Utensils that are used, are properly cleaned and sanitized
  • A dedicated hand washing sink, with hot & cold running water, equipped with soap & paper towels in a dispenser
  • A 2-compartment sink or a mechanical dishwasher and ideally, a food preparation sink
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage
Example: Morning Meal
  • Scrambled eggs (eggs, diced green peppers, onions, cheese)
  • Multigrain roll
  • Apple slices

Single-use cutlery is provided to eat the scrambled eggs

If your program:

  • Washes, cuts and portions high-risk/hazardous food onsite
  • Uses multi-use serving and preparation utensils (knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs)
  • Uses multi-use (reusable) cutlery, cups and plates
Then your site requires:
  • That food handlers wash their hands as often as necessary
  • Utensils that are used, are properly cleaned and sanitized
  • A dedicated hand washing sink, with hot & cold running water, equipped with soap & paper towels in a dispenser
  • A 3-compartment sink or a mechanical dishwasher and, ideally, a food preparation sink
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage
Example: Morning Meal
  • Scrambled eggs (eggs, diced green peppers, onions, cheese)
  • Multigrain roll
  • Apple slices

Multi-use cutlery provided to eat the scrambled egg.

Dishwashers:

Dishwashers used in student nutrition programs must meet the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17. Residential dishwashers that meet the NSF/ANSI 184 standard are an acceptable alternative to a commercial dishwasher in student nutrition programs with low volume use.

For more information on food safety for your student nutrition program contact dinesafe@toronto.ca

August 2021

Wash, rinse and sanitize bins and trays using the steps below:

  1. Wash the inside (bottom and sides) and lids of the bins and trays with warm soapy water.
  2. Rinse the bins and trays with water.
  3. Make a bleach sanitizing solution: Measure 1 litre of water and add ½ tsp of ordinary household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite*). Mix well and test solution.** Wear protective equipment such as: eye googles, gloves and apron when making the bleach sanitizing solution.
  4. Use a spray bottle to spray the sanitizing solution inside and outside of the bins and trays.
  5. Allow the bins and trays to air dry.
  • Repeat these steps before and after each use and when visibly dirty.
  • If a bin or tray is in a hall or classroom where many people can touch it over a period of a day or week, the exterior surface should be cleaned and sanitized every day.
  • Most Toronto school boards approve of the use of bleach in food preparation areas.  When in doubt, check with your school board.
  • Mix bleach with water only.

Using Bins and Trays

  • Food must be protected from contamination. If exposed/unwrapped food is present, a cover is required. A container lid, food grade plastic wrap or foil is suitable, where necessary.
  • If the food inside the bin or tray is already wrapped, a cover is not required.
  • Bins and trays must have smooth surfaces that allow for easy cleaning.
  • Cracked or scratched bins and trays must be discarded; they cannot be properly washed and sanitized.
  • Store bins and trays off the floor and protect them from contamination.
  • Depending on the food items (e.g. loose apples), the use of trays is preferred over bins to allow for easier selection of food by students and to minimize hand contact.
  • Separate food items within the bins or trays using reusable plastic containers or disposable items, such as plastic bags.
  • You may use cooler bags with ice packs for cold items such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Wash and sanitize cooler bags and multiple-use plastic containers before and after each use and when visibly dirty.

* Visit Public Health Ontario’s online dilution calculator to determine if your solution has the correct ratio of bleach based on the standard 5.25% Sodium hypochlorite

**Chlorine test strips can be used to check the strength of bleach solutions

Download this information as a PDF.

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for student nutrition programs.