Your food business may have it all: juicy slabs of meat, creamy mashed potatoes, bottomless mac and cheese, and bowl after bowl of soft-serve ice cream that make customers keep coming back for more.
Buffets are big business, but running one can introduce a number of food safety risks.
Smorgasbord of Food and Bacteria
Buffets often involve displays of both hot and cold food, as well as dishes held at room temperature, which means bacteria may be present. Let us blame it on cross-contamination, or the transfer of disease-causing microorganisms from one food to another.
Cross-contamination happens in many ways. The juices of one dish may contaminate another; a man who sneezes onto his palm may transfer bacteria while holding the serving tongs; and a child may poke a slobbery finger into the cake.
Buffets, in fact, are linked to foodborne illness incidents, such as salmonella poisoning in a luxury hotel in Adelaide and another hotel in Melbourne.
Preventing the Spread of Buffet Bacteria
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to maintain food safety.
Many things can go wrong during food prep either through deliberate negligence or unintentional actions. It pays, therefore, to have a food safety supervisor.
Make sure to source your ingredients and utensils from licensed suppliers, too. Prepare small platters and dishes before buffet time starts, but do not display them earlier than necessary to avoid leaving them at room temperature for longer than two hours.
Store hot meals in the oven set at 60 degrees Celsius or hotter prior to serving. For cold back-up dishes, keep them in the refrigerator.
While having a buffet-style food business may keep costs low, it also poses food safety concerns due to countless hands touching and mouths breathing. So stay alert, and keep everything from the food prep to serving in check.