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Policies and Procedures

Food Safety - Food brought into RCH from external sources for consumption by Parents and Carers

  • 1.    Overview/procedure description

    The RCH has a legal obligation to meet strict regulatory requirements pertaining to food safety and food handling practices. To align with this, the RCH Food Safety Program guideline regarding foods from external sources is available to protect the food safety for all patients and parents/carers and in compliance with food safety legislation.

    Meals left at room temperature can allow harmful bacteria to grow in food putting you and your child at risk of becoming very unwell. Transporting and inadequately reheating food or reheating food multiple times can also promote conditions for bacterial growth.

    If meals are brought into RCH from external suppliers, the following procedure must be adhered to.    

    2.    Related Policy

    Legislative Compliance

    Related Procedure

    Food Safety - Food brought into RCH from external sources for consumption by patients.

    3.    Definition of Terms

    Externally prepared meals: meals not prepared by RCH Kitchen.

    External sources: retail vendors including those within the RCH premise

    Food from home: foods which are prepared in a private domestic kitchen

    Parent Fridge: fridge provided for storage of food to be used/consumed by parents/carers only. This fridge is not temperature monitored

    Patients: the admitted child or adolescent   

    4.    Procedure details   

    FOR PARENT’S FOOD:   

    Food in parent fridges and freezers must not be offered to patients, as parent fridges and freezers are not temperature monitored.   

    All food and beverages for parents must be stored in designated parent fridges in the parent lounge or ward pantry. Some wards also have Parent freezers in the parent lounge or ward pantry for storage of frozen products.  

    RCH provides supplies of juice, milk, bread and  spreads to  parent lounge fridges for parent use. Cereal is also available in the cupboard for parents to prepare their own Breakfast.     

    a.    Externally prepared meals:   

    • Ensure chilled/frozen foods are transported to the RCH with an icepack in an insulated food carry bag/esky
    • Clearly label food with parent name, ward, room number and date
    •  Orange food labels are available for use next to the parent fridges 
    • All foods must be stored in a sealed container with a lid. Cooler bags are not permitted in the fridge or freezer.
    • Always defrost food in the parent fridge or microwave.
    • RCH recommends all meals prepared from home are consumed within 3 days if fresh and 2 months if frozen.
    • Please remove all foods on discharge   

    A microwave is available in the parent lounge for reheating meals.  The meal must be heated through evenly so it is steaming and consumed immediately. Leftovers must be discarded and not reheated again.  

    RCH hospital foods (taken from the patient meal tray) including ice-cream must not be stored in patient or parent freezers.  

    All foods stored in parent fridges and freezers must comply with Food Safety Notice Posters and must not be offered to patients.   

    The fridge and freezer is cleaned and checked weekly. Foods that do not comply with these guidelines may be discarded without consultation in the interests of protecting the food safety of all parents and in compliance with food safety legislation.     

    RCH staff will not be involved in the storage, preparation, handling and provision of food brought in by  parents.

    5.    References

    Victorian Food Act 1984

    Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Safety Standards (Chapter 3)

    Guidelines prepared by Nutrition & Food Services, Nov 2016.  

    6.    Contacts

    Manager, Department of Nutrition and Food Services

    Food Safety Officer, Department of Nutrition and Food Services