Holidays are a busy time for food businesses. You should ensure safety in your establishment during the holidays.
Food businesses can profit from the many corporate and social gatherings from November to January. Holiday celebrations include small gatherings, large parties and smaller events. Prioritizing food safety is an important priority. Your business does not need a food-borne disease outbreak.
These are safety tips that you should keep in mind when traveling during the holiday season.
Order only what you need
Depending on what type of establishment you have and what services you provide, you may order and prepare large quantities of food this time of the year. This means that you will need to be careful about ingredients and only order what you need. This is one way to avoid food spoilage and prevent customers from eating unsafe food.
You must do your best to minimize food waste during the holidays. You can donate food to food banks if you have excess food after a party, for instance. This is a great way to avoid food spoilage and help your community. Before donating, ask your charity about their requirements and guidelines.
Set up your kitchen before you rush.
Things can get chaotic during holiday rushes. Staff could work different shifts or take vacations. Make sure your kitchen is safe and functional. These are simple steps:
- To reduce cross-contamination, separate foods. Separate raw and cooked foods. Make sure juices from seafood, meat, and poultry do not drip onto any other food.
- Ensure that your kitchen follows the FIFO (first in, first out) system so that food acquired or prepared earlier is served and consumed before others.
- Fully equipped hand washing stations with liquid soap dispensers, paper towels and hand dryers.
Get ready for the holiday rush!
Make sure you wash your hands properly.
It’s easy to forget the basics in busy times. Handwashing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is essential for anyone working in the food industry. Hand washing is a must for all staff.
- Before, during, and after you prepare food
- After touching trash
- After using the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After smoking
Place reminders at prominent places about how and when to wash your hands. This will ensure that you follow the rules no matter what happens!
Let the turkey cool completely.
You need to prepare the turkey ahead of time if you plan to serve it as a holiday menu. The refrigerator is a better option than the counter to thaw your turkey. This will prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying quickly in the meat. It can take up to 24 hours to thaw turkeys of 5 lbs. To avoid the temptation of thawing the turkey at room temperature, plan.
Be sure to cook your food well.
High-risk foods should be handled with care. Cooked items should also be cooked thoroughly to kill any harmful microorganisms present when they are raw or undercooked. Cook meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood properly. All food should be cooked to a temperature of 74°C (165°F) or 82°C (180°F) in Manitoba. You can check the temperature of these foods with a calibrated thermometer.
Temperature is important
Frozen food should be kept at -18°C (0°F) and thawed before cooking, except for those designed to be prepared from frozen.
Hot food must be heated after cooking and kept at 60°C (140°F) or higher.
Cold food should not be chilled below 0°C or 4°C (32°F to 40°F) until it is ready to be served. To ensure safe food temperatures, iced trays or cold packs can be used to create serving platters intended to be left out over a long period.
If you have many appetizers that you need to store in the fridge, you can place them in smaller containers. Label each container with the date and the time.
Festive foods can be riskier.
Many holiday dishes and desserts contain common allergens like nuts, eggs, or shellfish.
Holiday foods like eggnog or tiramisu may contain raw eggs. Customers should know what’s in each dish and ensure that pasteurized eggs are used. Ensure staff knows which ingredients are used in what dishes to tell customers who might ask confidently. Notes on the menu should be added to inform customers about potential allergens and risks associated with certain dishes.
Shellfish can pose a particular risk. Make sure you store, prepare and cook your seafood correctly. Make sure you only buy from reliable suppliers and properly refrigerate the seafood. Cooking shellfish must reach an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) before being considered safe for consumption. Use sushi-grade fish if you plan to serve raw fish. It has been frozen to kill bacteria.
People at high risk — such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those who are very sick or elderly — need to be considered. Some holiday foods, such as soft cheeses or raw oysters, can potentially be harmful to pregnant women. These special risks should be known.
Food safety should not be assessed solely by appearances.
Throw away anything that smells or looks bad. Even if the food does not look, taste or smell spoiled, it is still dangerous. Pathogenic bacteria can cause food-borne illness. This bacteria can be found in raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. These foods should be stored properly to stop the growth of harmful bacteria. If in doubt, throw it away!
Make sure customers know how to store leftovers from holiday parties. Seal food in airtight containers. Tell customers about safe reheating techniques. Make sure to heat leftovers thoroughly. If you are using a microwave to heat your food, ensure evenly heated. Cold spots can quickly breed dangerous bacteria, making them sick.
Customers should be aware that food must not be left in the Temperature Danger Zone for between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius (5 and 60 degrees in Manitoba). To avoid food poisoning, it is important to store leftover food immediately.