Food Safety

Everything your child eats and drinks matters. The right mix of nutritional foods not only helps children perform well in school, it can lead to a lifetime of better health. Spencer Taylor from Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Department of Nutrition Services joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss student nutrition. View his segment here.

Getting a child to eat healthy foods can be a challenge, but studies show a proper diet makes a world of difference. Well-nourished students are proven to have higher test scores, increased school attendance, and improved concentration and classroom behavior. Additionally, students who are physically fit sleep better and are more equipped to handle the physical and emotional challenges they may encounter during the day.

That’s why Metro Schools’ Nutrition Services works diligently to plan menus consistent with the New Meal Pattern established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Dietary Guidelines for all Americans. These meals include foods that are low in fat, calories and sugars, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains.

The best way parents can help their kids eat healthy is to provide a nutritious breakfast and healthy snacks they can nibble on throughout the day. And if breakfast is not an option at home, all Metro Schools offer breakfast for every student.

No child should be concerned about hunger. They should be focused on learning. Set your child up for success by understanding the importance of healthy eating and the building blocks of balanced meals at

Student Nutrition

Everything your child eats and drinks matters. Well-nourished students have higher test scores and improved classroom behavior. Nashville Metro Schools’ Spencer Taylor is here to discuss student nutrition.

Food Safety

The federal government estimates there are about 48 million cases of food poisoning annually — the equivalent of sickening one in six Americans. Now that summer is upon us, Danny Ripley from the Metro Public Health Department joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss safe outdoor eating practices for picnicking and grilling. View his segment here.

Not only can food poisoning be a painful annoyance and ruin your warm weather fun, it can be an extremely serious medical emergency. Each year illnesses due to food poisoning result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

According to the Metro Public Health Department’s Food Division, the two biggest dangers to backyard chefs and picnic packers are potential cross-contamination and poor temperature control. These can be avoided through safe food handling practices such as washing your hands for 20 seconds before and after cooking, cleaning work areas and utensils, and cooking and storing foods at the correct temperature.

A few outdoor grilling rules of thumb include:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Clean utensils and equipment
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Store raw meat in a cooler; remove only the amount needed
  • Place grilled foods on a clean plate

A cook’s best friend is a thermometer. A few examples of proper cooking temperatures for different kinds of foods include:

  • Poultry: 165° F
  • Ground beef: 160° F
  • Pork: 155° F
  • Beef steak: 140° F
  • Prime rib: 130° F

For picnickers, foods most susceptible to contamination are those with high protein and high moisture content. But it’s important to remember any food can become contaminated. Food can sit out at any temperature for up to four hours, provided it is discarded afterwards. If you would like to keep the food for future consumption, only two hours is recommended.

A few handy food storage tips are:

  • Hot foods should be stored at 140° F
  • Cold foods should be kept below 41° F
  • Store chilled foods in shallow containers

If you’re ever uncertain whether food is safe, remember “when in doubt, throw it out.” For more information, visit

Summertime is the season for grilling and picnicking. Danny Ripley from Nashville Metro Public Health Department offers tips for safe outdoor eating fun.

Heat Safety

Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, yet hundreds of people die annually from extreme heat in the U.S. Dr. William S. Paul from the Metro Public Health Department joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss how to stay cool and safe when temperatures rise. View his segment here.

In the summertime, many people want to be outside soaking in the sun. However prolonged exposure to heat can be dangerous without taking proper precautions. Whenever possible, limit your time outdoors during the hottest part of the day. It’s also important to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water while you’re out in the sunshine.
Even when taking precautions, some people are especially vulnerable to extreme heat, like the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, homeless individuals, and people with a chronic medical condition. When exposed to high temperatures, they can fall victim to heat exhaustion or, in extreme cases, heat stroke. Learning how to spot the warning signs of each can help save a life.
A few symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting and vomiting

If someone progresses beyond heat exhaustion to heat stroke, their case is classified as a medical emergency. Some warning signs of heat stroke include:

  • Extremely high body temperature – above 103° F
  • Red, hot and dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Possible unconsciousness

If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. And if you have friends, family or neighbors at high risk for heat exhaustion, it’s recommended to check on them at least twice a day.

Visit to learn more about how you can stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed about heat safety.