Guidelines to Protect Your Catering Event from Food-Borne Illness

As a caterer, you obviously know how important it is to keep food safe. The livelihood of a catering business relies on delivering high quality food, and that can be ruined should a food borne illness be transmitted due to unsanitary practices. Below, we will go over some of the best ways to protect your catering events and customers from food borne illnesses. These guidelines are vital for protecting your business and avoiding controversy in your community.

1. Everyone Should be Washing Their Hands

This is a basic rule that can never be stressed enough. Everyone in the kitchen and everyone serving food at a catering event should be washing their hands before they handle food. Hands need to be rewashed if someone touches their hair, face, wipes their nose, rubs their hands on their clothes, goes to the bathroom, handles money, or touches somebody else. While it may seem like overkill, this is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. Kitchen management should always follow up with staff about washing their hands thoroughly and enforce this rule at all times to establish good habits.

2. Inspect Cookware

Cracks or damage to serving trays, cutting boards, pots and pans, utensils, etc. can all increase the bacteria that gets into the food. Create protocols for when cookware and utensils are replaced, and always immediately replace anything with a crack even if you think it is still usable. While a broken serving tray might still be functional, it may also be letting in a lot of bacteria that can cause serious illness to your patrons. Also be mindful when investing in cookware to establish how easy it will be to sanitize, as porous materials are much more difficult to keep sanitary.

3. Keep Cold Food Cold and Hot Food Hot

This rule is applicable in a couple different scenarios. First of all, do not take items from the fridge out of the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use them. Leaving cold food out of the fridge or freezer exposes them to contaminates and could lead to spoilage. When at a catering event, it is vital to keep ice trays under food that is meant to stay cold. The same goes for hot food items, as you should make sure these stay in a warm oven or that burners/warmers are under the serving trays to keep the food warm and safe for everyone.

4. Have Someone Serve Guests

Self-serve buffets are dangerous and could leave your business liable should someone get sick. The best way to go buffet style while still protecting your catering business is to have someone serve guests as they come up to the buffet. This person can take the plate, put the desired food on the plate, and then give it back to the guest. This allows for more quality control of the food and helps avoid patrons coughing/sneezing into food or touching the serving trays and utensils with unwashed hands.

5. Don’t Cross Contaminate Food Dishes

It is so important not to cross contaminate food dishes at a catering event! Catering kitchens might be cramped and tiny, but that does not mean you can skimp out on serving trays or cookware. For example, do not use the same dish that you put raw meat in to make your next dish. Everything needs to be completely sanitized before it is used for another dish, especially if raw food was in it previously. This is a huge cause of food borne illnesses and could get someone at your catering event very sick if your kitchen has a slip up.

6. Secure Catering Insurance

Lastly, do your catering business a favor and secure catering insurance. Catering an event is tough work and there are so many loose ends at all times. You never know when an accident could occur, so protect yourself and your business with a catering insurance policy from RPA. As insurance experts specializing in restaurant insurance, we have helped countless dining establishments and caterers recover and stay afloat after an accident. Contact us today to learn more.