Fri, 20 Sep 2019 02:00:13 -0400
All-Inclusive Food Safety TipsMARSHALEE VALENTINE
All-inclusive hotels are always a good option if you intend to take a few days off to relax, without having to worry about leaving property for food or entertainment; especially if you just want to spend time with your family. But imagine booking an all-inclusive for three days and on your first day you witness a few live cockroaches playing tag behind the pasta bar. That was a very recent reality for me. It was not, by the way, my first time witnessing this.
There are so many things that can go wrong at an all-inclusive hotel where food safety is concerned. And while it's easy to say “I'll just not go back to that hotel”, the minute you decide to eat anywhere that mass produces food you are at risk for food-borne illnesses. With that in mind I'll leave you with a few things to look out for when you do decide to enjoy sun, sea, sand and food this summer.
1 Pest sighting
Wherever food and food waste are plentiful, so are pests! Hence the need for a strict pest control programme in any food service space. Please be very observant in the buffet areas, bars and restaurants. I'm not asking you to spend your vacation looking for bugs, but to be aware of the areas where your food is being prepared and served. When my family and I saw the cockroach, we immediately showed it to the server behind the pasta bar, only to get a response “a the first unuh a see roach?” And, no, I'm not kidding. Pest control does not only mean you are supposed to completely eradicate all pests, it also means that any pest sighting should be reported immediately and action taken to find out where the problem lies. If you visit a hotel and see any evidence of pests – flies, rats, cockroaches; especially in the food service area — immediately report this to a supervisor or manager. Take special care to watch out for these pests also in the outside grill and bar areas.
2 Keeping food at the right temperatures
Make sure that fruits and dairy products such as milk and cheese are kept on ice in the buffet areas. Additionally, ensure that warmers are actually keeping food warm. If you take food items from the buffet or grill such as burgers, chicken and hot dogs, eat them while they are fresh off the grill. Salads, cut fruits, yogurt and other foods requiring chilling must be kept on ice.
NB: Never use ice designated for chilling food in your beverages.
Self-serve areas can be contaminated very easily for obvious reasons. Wash your hands before entering the buffet areas and avoid picking the food up with your hand (the tongs, ladles are there for a reason). There must be a different serving utensil for every dish being served, so if you realise the turkey ham and the cheese have one available serving utensil, request another from the attendants as you need to avoid cross-contamination. Never reuse your plates and utensils at the buffet.
4 Allergen Watch
If you have allergies or sensitivities, please make this clear to the servers. If you are uncertain about the preparation methods for items on the buffet request a special meal. Quite often the servers will use the same utensil to serve allergenic and non-allergenic foods; be mindful of this and make it your responsibility to eat safely by requesting different utensils for each food option.
5 Hotel Cafés
Many all-inclusive hotels now have cafés equipped with beautiful espresso machines, but with servers who have no clue how to use them. If you are a coffee drinker you will need your daily fix when you visit. However, please observe the cleanliness of the espresso machine being used, especially the steam wand – the long metal probe used to foam the milk- as many hotel baristas tend to forget to clean the milk from the wand immediately after use. The milk build-up not only makes the wand unhygienic, but the milk residue is a breeding space for bacteria which can end up in your milk or any other beverage that the wand is used in.
6 Clean Utensils
Always check that you receive clean utensils; servers should hold them by the handles if delivering unwrapped. If your utensils were left lying on the tables preset and unwrapped, and you have any doubts as to whether or not they are clean, request a clean set from your server.
Quick tip: If you are pregnant, ill or concerned about what to eat, please speak directly to the chef on duty and have them prepare something special for you.
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