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Enhancing the School Food Safety Program FAQs

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
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Policy Memos
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (89.29 KB)
DATE:April 26, 2013
SUBJECT:Enhancing the School Food Safety Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
TO:Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

This memorandum and its attachment supersede SP-37-2011, Child Nutrition 2010: Enhancing the School Food Safety Program. Attached are questions and answers (QAs) regarding the school food safety requirements for schools participating in Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) child nutrition programs. The QAs provide additional clarification regarding the enhancements to the school food safety program.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), PL 111-296, strengthens the existing food safety requirements in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and all other Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs operated in a school. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance on the implementation of the statutory requirement.

Section 302 of the Act amends section 9(h)(5) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1758(h)(5)) by requiring that the school food safety program based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles be applied to any facility or part of a facility in which food is stored, prepared or served for the purposes of the NSLP, SBP or other FNS program. The school food safety program, required since 2004, addresses food safety in all aspects of school meal preparation, ranging from procurement through service. FNS anticipates that only minor modifications to existing food safety programs will be needed in order to meet this requirement.

Food safety programs must be reviewed to ensure that standard operating procedures for safe food handling are updated to include any facility or part of a facility where food is stored, prepared, or served, such as on school buses, in hallways, school courtyards, kiosks, classrooms, or other locations outside the cafeteria. This requirement applies to school breakfast or lunch meals, and Special Milk, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and afterschool snack or supper programs.

Proper implementation of this requirement should not be burdensome because current procedures for food served in the cafeteria can be applied. FNS will continue to review and develop as needed practical food safety guidance to help state and local operators achieve the goals of this legislation.

State agencies are reminded to distribute this memo and attachment to their program operators immediately. School food authorities should contact their state agencies for additional information. State agencies may direct any questions concerning this guidance to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Melissa Rothstein
Acting Director
Child Nutrition Division


Page updated: January 10, 2024

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.