OK, OK, so warn weather MAY not have arrived just yet in many parts of the country, we would like to take a few minutes to remind folks of a few simple food safety tips for when the warmer weather does arrive and outdoor party times start back up.
Keep in mind that the tips we share will not cover every possible situation, but taking even just a few simple steps to protect your guests and in turn yourself can go a long way in terms of keep your BBQ or Spring Gathering from getting remembered as the one that made everyone sick!
- This one SHOULD go without saying, but... Wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling food, tableware or food containers. Make sure to dry hands with a paper towel (not a dish towel) and encourage your guests to do the same.
- Use clean, new bowls when putting out fresh food rather than putting new food into serving bowls or platters that have sat out for a while and potentially come in contact with germs.
- Have a specific serving utensil for each item on your serving line. This will help to avoid cross-contamination between food items.
- If possible have a spoon/utensil holder for each serving implement to prevent them from getting placed back into food dishes between uses as a tipped over spoon would lead to a person possibly digging in the potato salad with their (unwashed?) hands to get it out.
- Reduce people's temptation to use their fingers to serve themselves by making tongs, spoons, forks and if need be toothpicks readily available.
- Discourage eating from plates while guests serve themselves or get served in a food line since even the most careful eater could accidentally contaminate food offerings near them with unintentional saliva spraying onto the serving dishes and utensils in their immediate vicinity.
- To lessen the likelihood of guests tasting or sampling a dish to learn its identity, use place cards to label each dish.
- Another obvious one: If you or someone else has a known illness or potentially contagious medical condition, have someone else get food for you or them.
- Children need to learn proper etiquette in a food line so take the time to make sure they've properly washed their hands before mealtime and show them the correct ways to serve up food from a food line.
- When going back for seconds, always use a clean plate and make sure you leave your eating utensils on a clean napkin or paper towel back at your seat at the table. If outdoors, try to cover your utensils with a clean napkin if possible to prevent curious flies or other insects from trying to get a taste from your fork, spoon or knife.
Water Testing and Food Safety
Some of you have asked in the past if a connection exists between water quality testing and food safety on a commercial level... and one DEFINITELY exists. Think of it this way: Equipment in a food processing plant must get washed at the end of the day and in order for technicians to know they have satisfactorily disinfected a piece of equipment the rinse water must contain an adequate residual disinfectant level.
Disinfectants used in commercial food operations include, but are not limited to:
The produce industry also makes use of some of those same disinfectants when washing off fruits and vegetables. Growers and processors have to make certain wash solutions remain at specific disinfectant concentrations for established periods of time so that they know produce has been satisfactorily cleaned and may move on to the next stages of processing.
Popular products in the met and poultry processing industries include the WaterWorks High Range Free Chlorine (MPN 480022) and WaterWorks Ultra High Range Free Chlorine (MPN 480024) testing products.