Self-serve and Food SafetyThursday, April 29, 2021
We've all seen those social media viral videos of what goes on at the buffet line: The man at the supermarket deli who sipped directly from the soup ladle, not once, not twice, but three times! The one who put his head under the sneeze guard so he could smell the food. And, even the man who bypassed the tongs to pick up the food directly with his fingers and, yep, right into his mouth. We all know those notorious double-dippers, you know the ones who reach into the platter, make their selection, dip it, bite it and, yes, dip it again. Right into the container of dip. It begs the question: Who is responsible for food safety? Are there rules to follow in a self-serve/buffet situation?
The reality is food safety is everyone's responsibility. Yet, customers at times are negligent in their responsibility. While the onus is on the food business operator to ensure that the food and premises meet and exceed food safety standards, it is expected that customers also should follow basic rules. These basic rules can be referred to as dining/buffet etiquette and are simply rules to be observed when dining in a communal space. Let us look at the responsibility for each group.
The food business operator must ensure the following:
1. Adequate temperature control — hot foods hot, cold foods cold; monitor temperature.
2. Strategically and logically arrange menu items, taking into consideration the flow of people and the likely areas where there may be bottlenecks.
3. Do not mount up food; there must be proper heat circulation. Mounting food above the height of the warming trays or chafing pans prevent proper transfer of heat.
4. Install sneeze guard over food.
5. Have serving utensils.
6. Have resting place for serving utensils.
7. Have hand wash stations.
8. Have strategically located garbage bins.
9. Supervise and monitor self-serve area — have routinely scheduled clean-up.
10. Time-mark foods to ensure expiry time is maintained.
1. Wash hands before entering serving line.
2. Use serving utensils and not fingers to pick up foods.
3. Place serving utensils on resting plate and not on food in the chafing dish.
4. Use clean plates and cutlery each time you visit the line.
5. Supervise children when collecting food.
6. Do not eat in the buffet line.
7. Do not eat directly from the serving trays.
8. Do not eat directly from serving utensils.
9. Place dips, gravies, sauces, etc on plates. Go from dip to plate and not dip to mouth.
10. Do not carry pests into the restaurant.
In summary, food safety is everybody's business. Therefore, play your part to reduce the risk for yourself and your neighbours.
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