Community gatherings are gradually coming back after taking a long break a few years ago. Food is a shared interest when people gather for weddings, birthdays, graduation, social work, and other networking forums.
Food is a significant element in helping people stay active and healthy. However, the fun in the community gatherings can stop when basic food safety practices are not followed. BRC audits are an essential food handling and resting requirement that safeguards consumers from farm to folk.
Food poisoning is a common occurrence among people who attend community gatherings. Foodborne disease can also arise when bacteria transfer from food to people. Unfortunately, foodborne complications affect hundreds of people in a single event.
Healthy adults may survive minor food poisoning. However, children and aging adults may become severely ill. Foodborne diseases can be prevented by observing healthy food handling habits.
Event planners should update their employees with food handling requirements to ensure safety for all consumers. The following are detailed guidelines for safe food handling practices for community events.
All food handlers should observe unmatched cleanliness and personal hygiene. Coughs, sneezes, and dirty hands can spread airborne diseases to consumers. Additionally, kitchen equipment, vermin, and waste can be a primary element for spreading diseases. Food should be protected during storage, preparation, display, and serving. Cleaning is a broad subject that can be divided into different:
Clean hands: all food handlers should be keen on proper and frequent cleaning of hands. Effective hand washing ensures the palms and fingertips with soap and running water. Typically food handlers should wash their hands:
- Before working on food produce
- After using the bathroom
- Every time one soils the hands
Pathogens are hidden and carried in the hands and fingertips as we run fingers in the air, scratch the skin, touching hair and surfaces. The following is the recommended hand washing procedure:
- Wet hands with running water
- Apply a generous amount of soap
- Rub hands for at least 20 seconds
- Scrub under the fingernails with a clean nail brush
- Rinse hands under clean running water
- Dry with a paper towel
Cleaning and sainting utensils and serving areas
Dirty utensils used in food preparation and serving can spread pathogens. There should be different serving utensils for each food type to prevent cross-contamination. Scrap way food debris from the utensils and soak in hot soapy water. Clean utensils with appropriate soap and dishcloth, then rinse till clean. Sanitize utensils using hot water to which chlorine bleach is added. Allow to drip water and dry before the next use.
Cutlery and crockery should not be stored in the safe drawer. Keep them separately where they can be handled carefully and hygienically. Cleaning serving tables and counters should be done as needed. Additionally, chopping boards and other food equipment should be cleaned in warm soapy water after every use. Similarly, they should be sanitized to kill any pathogens left after washing with soap.
2. Maintain proper ventilation.
Make sure that all food processing spaces have adequate room temperatures and ventilation. All vapors and fumes must be vented outdoors, according to the FDA. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that kitchen hoods be licensed and offer enough exhaust recycling.
3. Check food shipments for quality.
Even if you have a good connection with your supplier, you should constantly verify shipments for freshness and temperature when they arrive. In transit, meat, poultry, and shellfish must be ice-packed and stored in vacuum packaging at 40°F or below.
4. Take caution with unregulated suppliers.
Some small, local suppliers are not subject to new FDA regulations requiring written safety plans and tracking of food shipments. When dealing with unregulated suppliers, check what food safety measures they take when producing and shipping goods.
5. Use proper food controls.
Proper food storage and temperature control can prevent E. coli and salmonella, the two most common forms of foodborne illness, from spreading. Raw foods should be separated from other food items and stored in clean shelf space in the refrigerator. Meat, poultry, and eggs should all be completely cooked before being delivered and refrigerated at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Store cold food such as fish, eggs, poultry, meat, seafood, cream pies, and puddings at 40 degrees to preserve nutrients and prevent contamination. Anything below encourages the multiplication of bacteria. These products should also not be kept at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Dry foods are often stable at room temperature. Similarly, foods like jellies and pickles preserved with sugar, salt, or vinegar remain harmless at room temperature.
6. Use labels to track shelf life.
A color-coded date labeling system is a standard way in the restaurant industry for tracking food’s shelf life and ensuring the correct rotation of food.
For instance, mark new, fresh products with a green sticker for products that must be used within 24 hours. On the other hand, use a red sticker to mark items that should be used immediately. Expiring products should be thrown out right away.
7. Use labels to prevent cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination happens when bacteria spread from one type of food item to another. For instance, using a chopping board or knife for meat and then using it to slice onions for a salad can cause bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels. Avoid cross-contamination by:
- Separating foods according to type
- Washing and sanitizing equipment, countertops, and utensils appropriately.
- Embracing color-coding systems for food preparation-cutting boards, utensils, and equipment for meat products can have a different color from vegetables and fruits. The color would help food handlers to distinguish food by type and susceptibility to pathogens.
8. Keep updated ingredients lists available.
Update your ingredient lists for each menu item on a regular basis and make them available to all personnel either electronically or in a binder. Reference your ingredients lists when serving customers with allergies or religious-based dietary restrictions to prevent an incident from occurring.
9. Prevent food spoilage in transit.
If your restaurant offers delivery or catering services, use temperature-controlled cabinets and containers when delivering food. Instruct customers properly reheat their food upon delivery to ensure safety.
Food safety is a broad discipline. All food handlers should observe personal hygiene and embrace the discussed food handling measures to ensure pathogens stay away from food.