.04 Food Storage and Preparation.

A. An operator shall:

(1) Protect all food from contamination while it is being stored, transported, or displayed; and

(2) Prepare and serve food, including infant formula, in a safe, sanitary, and healthful manner.

B. There shall be sufficient storage areas for all food brought from home and all food held in reserve for service by the operator.

C. Food shall be stored:

(1) In an area that is dry, cool, well-ventilated, well-lighted, and equipped with easily cleanable shelving; and

(2) At least 6 inches off the floor to facilitate cleaning.

D. In a small center, food may be stored:

(1) Separately from family food; or

(2) With family food if the operator chooses to have the entire family food storage area inspected.

E. If food is transferred for storage from its original container, the operator shall provide a secondary storage container that is:

(1) Easily cleanable;

(2) Nontoxic;

(3) Nonabsorbent;

(4) Tightly closed; and

(5) Clearly labeled as to its contents.

F. The operator:

(1) May not store food below overhead waste lines;

(2) Shall maintain cooked, potentially hazardous hot food at or above a temperature of 140 F;

(3) Shall refrigerate potentially hazardous food at or below a temperature of 40 F;

(4) Shall keep frozen food at or below 0 F; and

(5) Shall restrict the movement of pets and other animals so that food and food contact surfaces are not contaminated.

G. Single service items such as paper and plastic cups, containers, lids, plates, knives, forks, spoons, and placemats shall be:

(1) Used only once; and

(2) Stored, handled, and dispensed to protect them from contamination.

H. During an activity in which the children prepare food, the activity shall be planned and carried out in a manner consistent with the safety and health practices required in this subtitle.

I. The operator shall discard:

(1) All spoiled fruits, vegetables, or other food;

(2) Refrozen food;

(3) Potentially hazardous frozen food that has been thawed and not immediately cooked and served;

(4) Swelled, rusty, or leaky canned foods;

(5) Foods exposed to fire, smoke, or water damage;

(6) After a child finishes eating, any remaining food that has come into contact with:

(a) The child's mouth; or

(b) An eating utensil that has been used by the child; and

(7) After being left out for consumption by children during a meal or snack, any milk remaining in an opened original container, a pitcher or similar container, or a drinking vessel.

J. The operator shall send home or discard at the end of each day all opened containers of food brought from home for a child.