All-you-can-eat buffets seem to be an American staple when it comes to convenient food options. From Chinese food to Italian pizza bars, the chance to belly-up for unlimited access to tasty choices is a robust attraction of restaurants offering food bars. In addition to the start-up investments of commercial grade appliances, salad bar equipment, ice-cream machines and dining accessories, taking time to address the health concerns of food service ventures can go a long way to ensuring a quality customer experience. Here are some practical ways to focus on food handling and cleanliness.
There is safety in numbers.
Working in food service is a complicated business. There are many health and safety codes that must be followed, and training your staff to be in compliance is no easy task. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. As a nationally recognized company specializing in food handling safety, ServSafe offers several programs that equip restaurateurs with the training and resources needed to operate successfully. The program can be used to train employees, but the recommendation is to train from the top down and ensure everyone is on the same page with food safety.
Watch for issues with cross-contamination.
Perhaps the most concerning risk with buffet service is that of cross-contamination. This is more than just the brown gravy running in the dish of macaroni and cheese. The spread of germs occurs like wildfire, with so many people and hands reaching for the same utensils and touching the same equipment. Officially, cross-contamination is when disease-causing microorganisms transfer from one food to another. These organisms could be bacteria or viruses, and they can spread either through personal contact to food or equipment or through one contaminated food dripping or touching another. Because food is left in a public area, very few are concerned with proper hand washing techniques. Having sanitizing stations near the utensils are one way to encourage good hygiene.
Monitor food temperatures constantly.
Foods that are not prepared, cooled or stored properly can grow bacteria and create a potential scenario for food poisoning. Heat lamps, cooling bins, warming drawers and refrigeration tables all help keep products at a safe temperature, but these are only effective when monitored for consistency. Keep thermometers for both refrigerated products and heated for constant notice concerning food temperatures.
The health inspector for your area will assess the cleanliness of your restaurant, as well as whether or not your processes and procedures are in compliance with food safety regulations. However, taking care of health concerns should follow a proactive approach.