10 Things Food Servers Must Consider

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Food service providers often tend to ignore the activities that occur before, during and after serving customers. Handling and preparation of food are very important, but we need to ensure that precautions are taken when serving our food. This applies to both serving in large quantities at home and at a restaurant.

1 Ensure that potentially hazardous temperature-sensitive foods are held at temperatures of 57C (135F) or hotter for hot foods. Hot-holding equipment (equipment used to keep food warm) must be designed in a manner that allows it to keep food at this temperature or hotter. This equipment must not be used to reheat food; food must be removed and reheated and then placed in the hot-holding equipment to be served. Cold food that is potentially hazardous must be held at 5C (41F) or colder and cold-holding equipment must be used that can maintain this temperature or colder. Also, make sure a thermometer is available to monitor the temperature of foods at least every three hours.

2 Food being served must be covered with covers and sneeze guards to protect from contaminants.

3 Try as best as possible to prepare food in small batches to avoid having food being held for long periods of time. If this cannot be avoided, ensure food is stored at the correct temperature for the recommended times. One tip is to label the holding containers with the time food was brought out, to monitor holding times.

4 All serving utensils must be cleaned, sanitised and stored in the food with the handle extended above the container rim; this must be clean and sanitised. Try to avoid storing utensils in containers with water; if this is done, change water at least every three hours. If utensils will not be wrapped, please ensure that they are placed on tables with clean surfaces or a clean tablecloth.

5 Do not use your bare hands to serve food; use disposable gloves if hands are being used and “dispose” of these gloves once you move from your work station or switch tasks. Do not cross-contaminate allergens such as nuts, shellfish, etc with other foods. Ice must be served with tongs or scoops.

6 For servers, of course you must practise good personal hygiene, such as wearing clean clothes and hair restraints and washing hands frequently and properly. Ensure you hold dishes by the bottom or edges; glasses by the middle, bottom or stem; and eating utensils by the handles. Avoid touching the food contact areas of dishes and glassware.

7 Glasses must be carried in a tray or on a rack and not stacked on each other. This is a common assault for many and must be corrected; dishes must also be stored on a rack and not stacked when serving.

8 Ensure condiments are covered at all times; gravy must be kept in heat holding containers. Never re-serve opened food that has been returned such as fruits, garnishes and uneaten bread rolls. Only re-serve unopened, pre-packaged foods that are not potentially hazardous, such as condiment packets.

9 For food trucks, ensure that the vehicles are cleaned and sanitised regularly. All food contact surfaces must be cleaned and sanitised and the same rules for keeping food safe in your restaurant must apply. Make sure safe drinking water is available for cooking, washing of dishes and utensils and hand washing. If you are serving off-site and food must be delivered, ensure that inside the delivery vehicles are cleaned and sanitised regularly.

10 Ensure garbage disposal area is readily available and place containers away from food preparation and serving areas.

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