Food Hygiene Regulations must always be followed if you are in the food catering business even if the food is handled and prepared in your own home. When catering for functions especially large groups such as a business function you can forget about the safety measures that need to be followed in order to deliver quality food on a big set up stage.
Foods that need extra special care:
Potential food poisoning is always a hazard when foods are not handled properly. A wide variety of foods such as raw poultry, meat, and meat products may contain food poisoning bacteria and are often associated with food poisoning outbreaks. Fish and other seafood products have also been associated with food poisoning. Desserts containing raw eggs such mousses and home-made ice creams may cause problems too. Care must also be practised when handling unprocessed foods such as raw salads and vegetables. Most raw foods can be a source of bacteria that can cause food poisoning that is why proper precautions must be taken.
Common Faults that Cause Food Poisoning:
Some of the common practices that could trigger food spoilage:
Improper storage, Insufficient temperature- cold or hot foods not kept on ideal temperature, under-cooked foods, and bacterial contamination.
Catering for any event means that large quantities of cooked or raw food compete for space in the fridge or freezer. Poor storage is one of the leading causes of food poisoning. Since domestic fridges are not designed to hold large amounts of food needed for functions, some of the foods may be left unrefrigerated for a prolonged time, thus causing the food to spoil. Always be cautious. Before accepting any contracts, make sure that your fridge and freezer has a storage capacity that can handle the needed to keep the food safe and clean, especially when catering for large numbers from home. Dripping or defrosting foods must be kept at the bottom part of the fridge below any cooked foods. Salad trays must be protected from drips at any cost. Make sure that cooked and uncooked are not stored together.
Perishable foods must always be kept in the fridge at the ideal temperature to prevent bacterial growth. If you are catering Hawthorn then ensure you have appropriate transport and technology food is delivered and consumed at a safe temperature.
Things to remember:
Utilise a fridge thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the fridge. Do not overload the refrigerator. If the cooling air circulating within the fridge can’t flow freely, then the efficiency of the fridge is jeopardised. Always keep the door closed. The unnecessary opening of the fridge door could cause the temperature to rise. Food that needs to be stored in the fridge before eaten must be prepared last to guarantee freshness and prevent contamination. Once everything is ready, getting the food to the venue is another matter. This can be an issue if you need to transport large quantities of perishable food. You need to consider if there are facilities adequate for hot or cold foods at the venue as well. Adequate fridge and cooker capacities are as important as in the home.
Sufficient cooking is the key to killing any harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It is advisable that the temperature at the centre reaches at least 70°C for at least 2 minutes. Before cooking meat or poultry, make sure that it is properly thawed. You can either place it in the fridge or microwave it. Ensure that the centre of the meat is well cooked by cooking until the juices run clear. Cooked food must only be reheated once and it must be heated all the way through. Don’t take any chances. Cook food all the way through even if there are people waiting to eat.
Cross contamination, one of the leading causes of food poisoning outbreaks, is the transfer of bacteria or contaminants from one surface to another.
Cooking by large quantities can mean more people in the kitchen who could be potential bacteria carriers. Large quantities of meat and uncooked foods are in danger of contamination. Numerous pots, pans, and utensils also need to be properly washed for the food preparation. Here are some tips to help reduce cross contamination: Prepare cooked and uncooked food separately. Do not use the same utensils or tools such as knives or chopping board when preparing them unless the tools are properly washed and sanitised. Wash used tools and worktops with hot water and detergent. Always keep your hands clean. Sanitise before preparing any food, especially between handling raw and cooked foods. Change dishcloths and towels frequently. Clean any injuries such as cuts or grazes and cover them with a waterproof dressing. Use a separate kitchen towel when wiping your hands. People who are recently ill with diarrhoea or vomiting must not be admitted into the kitchen. Ready to eat food must be kept clean and must not come in contact with meat, poultry or any unwashed foods.
Always Remember: In catering for large business functions, do not take any chances. Safety First.