Managing a buffet business can be challenging for most food safety dangers. As the one who manages the restaurant, you should always keep your customers from experiencing upset stomachs and food poisoning.
You must be aware that buffets usually come with hot or cold food displays, even food that is kept at room temperature. Many of the foods can be meat, seafood, and even dairy products that could harbor bacteria that could increase rapidly in the right conditions.
Customers usually become victims, as they often foul the food without even realizing it. That’s how important the Illinois food handler’s license is, as it raises awareness in preventing very serious food safety incidents, especially in buffet restaurants.
This article teaches us the golden rules when working or owning a buffet restaurant.
What to Know When Running a Buffet Restaurant
With all the other states and Illinois food handlers’ licenses, here are some things you should know when running a buffet restaurant.
Food should be Out of the Risky Temperature Zone
Keep the possibly hazardous foods or those they called high risk foods outside the temperature risky zone. It is the range of temperature where bacteria and all other microorganisms can rapidly multiply.
Foods that are high-risk include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens. Also, if you use a thermometer to check hot temperatures, you just have to insert the thermometer into its thickest parts of food.
As for the cold items, if you were not able stir the product, you just have to insert the thermometer on the thick parts to take accurate reading. This is something that certifications would teach us, like the Illinois Food Handler’s License.
Monitor and Supervise Self-service Areas
The thing about food safety in buffets is that customers cause the greatest danger to themselves and all other customers. The Food handlers must be trained in the practices of proper food handling.
Many have already completed the course for food handling and have already obtained a certificate from the recognized provider:
The Illinois food handler’s license helps in taking precautions in preventing food contamination, while the public who hasn’t experienced food safety training should not. This only means that any person, woman, man, or child who eats at the buffet restaurant could contaminate food and everybody else.
So, for you to save your customer, it would be very important that you monitor the self-service locations. Perhaps you can allocate one staff member to manage the buffet restaurant and train them about the steps you should take if they see or observe contamination incidents.
Each Food Item Should Have a Serving Spoon
Using one serving utensil for different food or touching the food items with bare hands could cause cross-contamination. In fact, cross-contamination in food settings refers to the unintended transfer of food contaminants, which makes it not safe to eat.
In full-service restaurants or any food industry, the cross-contamination is controlled by those trained food handlers like the cooks, chefs, and servers who are following the food safety protocols, like making use of utensils for various types of food to reduce risks of cross-contamination.
In the buffet-style restaurants, when you see that customers are using the same serving utensils to get up different foods or even using their hands to pick up food items, they could introduce the food allergens into the dishes and even transmit bacteria from the raw food.
But if they have one serving utensil for each food serving, it discourages the customers from using the same utensils in picking up various food items.
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When in Doubt, just Throw it Out
Food safety will never be an exact science. The foods contaminated with bacteria and other infective microorganisms may not taste, look, or even smell any different from safe foods.
With that, you just have to trace the amounts of tasteless food allergens that are not possible to detect with the senses. It’s very important to learn and understand the basics of safe handling of food and follow the food safety practices.
Food Safety Practical Steps
While there could be a lot of possible sources of food contamination in buffet restaurants, there could also be some practical steps that could be considered to protect utensils and food from getting contaminated.
You can cover food items that come with lids, using of sneeze guards over the buffet areas, and ensure that handles don’t touch the items. Of course, you should never add fresh foods to old batches of food.
When working in the food industry, the best way to manage food safety hazards is to train the employees. When the food handlers understand what they are doing, especially in handling food and understand why the food safety is important, the customers and the business could benefit. In the end, it’s always the safety of customers that matters, and that’s why everyone should be educated enough as food handling could be risky.