Food Safety Tips for a Self-Service Buffet Area

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Strict food hygiene regulations are in place for buffet food retailers to prevent patrons from food borne illnesses. These rules include having properly trained staff, clean premises and equipment, and most importantly, keeping food at the correct temperature. Here are some guidelines on how to keep your self-service buffet both visually appealing and free from danger.

Self-service cold buffets

Self-service cold buffets can include seafood, salads, deli meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, and desserts. These buffets in particular can be very popular in supermarkets, restaurants, weddings, and private functions. The culinary team must keep in mind that there are plenty of related food safety issues. The culinary team must be aware that the damaging radiation from the produce display lighting will raise surface temperatures of food in cold buffets, including cold display cases that are refrigerated with humidifiers and misters. The combined exposure of the fluorescent lighting from food display cases and oxygen can cause fats to spoil. Also, raised temperature environments are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and food borne pathogens, particularly in salads containing eggs, mayonnaise, and dairy products.

Unsafe cold buffet temperatures and faulty produce display lighting can make seafood, deli meats, desserts, and salads unsafe within two to four hours. Instead of being at risk of these dangers, consider investing in Promolux food safe lighting which will ensure the reduction of UV radiation onto your buffet goods, therefore prolonging freshness and quality.

Self-service hot buffets

Self-service hot buffets typically include pastas, cooked meats, roasted vegetables, and warm bread rolls. Ideally, hot food should be served steaming hot, in hot food displays under display case lighting, or over burners. In buffets, it is common for the warm foods to rest under display case lighting. Self-service hot buffets are also popular in restaurants, weddings, and special functions. UV lighting can be equally as dangerous for hot buffets as it is for cold buffets. An issue that faces many culinary teams that service their customers with hot buffets is the dehydration and discoloration of the food due to the amount of UV lighting exposure. The combination of oxygen, UV, and visible spectrum radiation triggers photochemical reactions. After being exposed to photochemical reactions, the hot items lose their texture, vibrant original color, and go dry. Counteract this cataclysm by using Promolux specialty display lighting for food service buffets.

Keeping food fresh at buffets

Keeping food that is fresh is paramount. The buffet should be monitored regularly and food should be brought out routinely. When bringing out fresh food to add to the buffet, it should not be combined with the leftovers from the food being replaced. Each dish should have its own serving utensil that is not to be mixed with other serving utensils.

Staying hygienic at buffets

Overall hygiene is a critical component to a healthy self-service buffet. Customers should never touch any food on display without using a serving utensil. Food should be protected from coughs and sneezes by a sneeze guard. Hands of all employees should be washed thoroughly. When the food is being prepared, there should be no cross contamination.

Self-serving buffets are delicious and exciting. They can add extra flare to a supermarket, restaurant or event but can be a disaster if no precautions are taken. Using these tips will keep your buffet clean, visually inviting, and most importantly, hygienic.