Caterers have a particular interest in maintaining food safety in their operations. One bout of foodborne illness can close a catering operation down permanently. Most recently, the Plain Nuts Catering & Deli in Georgia has shut down after catering an event that made at least 70 people ill, with four admitted to the hospital. Lab tests confirmed Salmonella infections were present in multiple attendees of events catered by the company in May. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to make sure food is safe throughout the catering process. Here are some tips to help ensure food safety for caterers:
Ensure you are receiving fresh foods by checking the food safety certifications of your food suppliers. This is especially important for foods that are common food safety offenders, like sprouts, melon, and meat. This is arguably the most important step in food safety for caterers. Inspect foods thoroughly before preparing.
Follow all of the most important food safety rules, such as wearing gloves; regular hand washing; using separate cutting surfaces, storage containers, and utensils for raw meat; and making sure everyone involved in the preparation of food understands all of the rules of avoiding cross-contamination. Training staff to follow these rules is critical in this industry with a traditionally high turnover. Check local laws to ensure you are following all rules for sneeze guards, food safety measure documentation, and food allergies.
Throughout the food prep and transportation process, foods must be kept at the proper temperatures of above 140 degrees F for hot foods, and below 40 degrees F for cold foods. Ensure there is a backup system in place for refrigeration and heating elements while in transport and while serving. All foods must be kept in food-safe containers that can be sanitized between uses. Check food regularly with a thermometer to ensure the proper temperature is maintained. Throw away any foods that are found to be in the "danger zone."
At CitroBio, we are committed to food safety. Learn more about how our food wash controls pathogens and helps maintain healthy, safe food.