Hygiene And Handling Of Food At The Buffet

Hygiene And Handling Of Food At The Buffet

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Hygiene And Handling Of Food At The Buffet

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Hygiene And Handling Of Food At The Buffet

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Question:
You have been appointed as the food safety supervisor in a restaurant which is planning to start a new self-service food service (buffet) and the management has asked you to file a report about the staff and customer practices you think that can impact on the food safety.
 
 
Answer:

Displaying of food (chilled / hot and ambient)
Buffets displays cold, hot and ambient foods kept at room temperature where it is essential to keep a close eye on the temperature and time.
Hot foods
The hot foods should be kept at an internal temperature of 60 degree Celsius or 140° F or warmer. The food is served hot in slow cookers, chafing dishes and warming trays by using a food thermometer for checking. The temperature should be checked every 2 hours by using a calibrated food thermometer. It should be noted that some warming trays can hold food only at 110°F to 120°F and therefore, it should be checked that trays could hold foods up to 140°F or warmer that keep away the bacteria called Temperature Danger Zone. Egg and related dishes like soufflés or quiches require re-heating temperature to 165°F before serving (Ali 2014).
Cold foods
It is important to serve cold foods in buffet at 40°F or colder and keep them refrigerated until it is served. If any food item is going to be displayed on buffet table for more than 2 hours, the plate containing cold foods should be placed on ice to retain the chillness. Cold foods in buffet should be kept cool enough to avoid growth of bacteria or harmful pathogens on it. Ice serves as the best way to keep buffet foods cool. The proteins need to be kept cold like beans, meat and dairy products (Fda.gov 2018).
Ambient foods
Shelf-stable foods need to be stored safely at room temperature in sealed container. These foods are normally stored in refrigerator, however they can be processed to store them safely at ambient or room temperature for long shelf life. The ambient temperature glass cabinets or display cases are used to store ambient food items like sauces, breads and other condiments.
Self service and refilling of food
In context to self-service in buffet, the food staff should monitor the way customers or clients use self-service equipment for checking that food is not being contaminated. Controls and monitoring is important in self-service, as food should be served quickly after preparation. The staff who supervise self-service at displays should possess appropriate knowledge and skills for the tasks. One staff must be assigned for monitoring guests and eliminating food safety threat like reusing utensils and plates. The supervision should be maintained in a way that customers should not feel alarmed or uncomfortable. The customer service skills should be good enough to ensure that staffs are not intrusive. There should be separate clean utensils to take food on display and should monitor that customers use them so that contamination is minimized. The single-use items should be kept in dispensers as it minimizes contamination and reduce waste. There should be hand sanitizer in dispensers at self-service buffet and sanitize surfaces by separate cloths and sanitizing solutions (Skov et al. 2013).
The refilling of water at buffet is done when the container is less than one-quarter and old container should be removed replacing it. The food should not be combined between new and old containers and place enough drinking filled glasses at all times. Buffet inserts should be refilled in pantry or kitchen and not in the outlet and refills should take place until 15 minutes before closing of buffet so that presentation is up to standard in regards to food cost (Sakaguchi, Pak and Potts 2018).
Hygiene in the buffet area
Buffet offers variety of dishes and food for gratifying palate of customers with assorted preferences. However, food at buffet is exposed to environment and face difficulty in controlling food temperature. Therefore, it is important to maintain hygiene and quality while enjoying sumptuous meal at the buffet.
 
The buffet area should be cleaned three to four times at the pre opening and after closing of buffet. It is important to sanitize the surface areas like tabletops, bar tops, crockery and cutlery that customers comes in direct contact. At the buffet, there should be safe handling of food by staff by using proper gloves, clean clothing and hairnets that maintain overall hygiene. There should be proper hand washing and sanitizing by employees after every three hours on duty. The unused and leftover for more than 2 hours should be thrown away from buffet facility and remove utensils that become contaminated and replenish with fresh ones (Oyewole 2013).
Contamination issues
Cross-contamination is the biggest issue in buffet when an individual touches food item or utensil with unclean hands that results in spreading viruses or bacteria to others who is exposed to that particular utensil or food. The self-service buffet greatly invites cross-contamination issues that transfer disease-causing microorganisms through food via direct contact or dripping contaminated liquid on food. In addition, there should be proper food temperature maintenance as temperatures between 40 F and 140 F cause bacteria or virus to grow and multiply rapidly increasing chances of illness to customers (Hattersley and King 2014).
Crockery and cutlery
Presentation is essential in buffet catering and crockery helps in complimenting the food at display. The combination of interesting colours and shapes gives an exciting experience through ceramic, wood and glass materials in the catering crockery. The centre dishes have maximum effect and use of rubber pedestals on elevated dishes adds alternate heights to buffet table. A range of cups, plates, tableware and bowls that is used extensively at the buffet table. Buffet display equipments comprises of display baskets, chafing dishes and display trays that help to present food to customers in a professional and stylish manner (Andrews 2013).
Disposable materials used
The materials comprises of tabletop disposables, paper napkins, plastic plates, stirrers and straws, foam and paper disposables, cardboard, foil, paper and drink containers that goes to recycle bin. Recycled paper and plastic products should be used that are biodegradable in nature.
Disposing the waste material
Food waste can be recycled depending on its nature as vegetable and fruit peelings, leftovers at buffet and post-consumer are recycled. Grease-trap sludge and meat cut are not generally accepted. Aerobic windrow composting or hot composting is used in Australia where food waste is mixed with organics like paper or wood chips forming windrows. In-vessel composting is also used for aerobic decomposition that is similar to windrow compositing (Reynolds, Piantadosi and Boland 2015).
 
References
Ali, F.A., 2014. Food serving assembly. U.S. Patent 8,869,789.
Andrews, S., 2013. Food and beverage service: A training manual. Tata McGraw-Hill Education.
Fda.gov. 2018. Serving Up Safe Buffets. [online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm328131.htm [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].
Hattersley, S. and King, R., 2014. Catering–How to Keep Allergic Consumers Happy and Safe. In Risk management for food allergy (pp. 189-200).
Oyewole, P., 2013. Multiattribute dimensions of service quality in the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant industry. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 22(1), pp.1-24.
Reynolds, C.J., Piantadosi, J. and Boland, J., 2015. Rescuing food from the organics waste stream to feed the food insecure: an economic and environmental assessment of Australian food rescue operations using environmentally extended waste input-output analysis. Sustainability, 7(4), pp.4707-4726.
Sakaguchi, L., Pak, N. and Potts, M.D., 2018. Tackling the issue of food waste in restaurants: Options for measurement method, reduction and behavioral change. Journal of Cleaner Production.
Skov, L.R., Lourenco, S., Hansen, G.L., Mikkelsen, B.E. and Schofield, C., 2013. Choice architecture as a means to change eating behaviour in self?service settings: a systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 14(3), pp.187-196.

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