Food safety is defined as the correct practice of handling, preparing and storing food. Food safety must be a top priority with the catering industry as any slip in food safety parameters can cause foodborne illness and can bring bad repute to the catering service. Food safety in the catering service is the same as that in restaurants with the additional need to pay attention to transport of foods.
A catering service can provide good food if the raw materials and ingredients and high risk foods have been supplied by a reliable vendor. You must only buy products from those suppliers that are following food safety compliance as that will eliminate the risk of contaminated ingredients right at the start.
Sanitary and hygienic food preparation
All your employees must be trained and must follow all sanitation procedures like regular hand washing, using gloves, cleaning surfaces, knives etc. to prevent cross contamination. Food handlers must follow personal hygiene food safety procedures. Heated foods must be kept away from thawing and raw foods even during transportation.
Transportation is an important factor for catering services and the transport must be temperature controlled to hold both hot and cold foods at 65oC and 4oC respectively. Foods must be carried in food-safe containers so they cannot be contaminated. All foods that can cross contaminate must be separated when they are being transported.
All transported foods must be held in a sanitised area. Food temperature is one of the most important and must be maintained during the entire catering event. When reheating, food must be reheated to 82°C for it to be safe. If these temperatures of served food moves lower than 62oCthen bacteria can multiply rapidly and can cause foodborne illnesses including food poisoning in guests. Caterers must make sure that they have equipment that will help them to maintain food temperatures.
Full Menu and nutritional values
FSSAI has made it mandatory to put up food safety display boards and this applies to catering services also so consumers are aware that food safety is being followed and the catering service has a license. It is also advisable display the full menu, ingredients used and nutritional information so that consumers are aware of what they are consuming and avoid any kind of allergenic foods or high fat, sugar and salt foods which are not good for their health.
Food contamination can occur during food handling and this can be prevented if food handlers are properly trained in safe food practices. All personnel must be thoroughly trained on various food temperature needs, safe preparation, and safe transportation.
Catering services must do a self-check by documenting all food safety procedures and temperature checks. This way the personnel handling the foods become more aware of the procedures and in case of an inspection by food safety officers your catering service can show proof that you are following all food safety procedures.