By Medicine Hat News on October 3, 2017.
Food is a key component of any social occasion. Party hosts often rely on buffet-style offerings as opposed to sit-down meals to feed guests in environments where space may be limited. Buffets also are handy when hosting guests with various dietary restrictions or people who are picky eaters.
When establishing buffet service, hosts and hostesses can heed some safety guidelines that can help prevent fires and promote guests’ health.
Skip the bacteria buffet
Foodborne illnesses can occur when bacteria in food proliferates. Serving food buffet-style requires keeping hot foods at an internal temperature of at least 140 F and cold foods on ice so they stay 40 F or cooler.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises food be kept out at room temperature no longer than two hours. If the buffet table is located somewhere ambient temperatures are high, such as outdoors in the sun, reduce holding time to one hour. Then promptly pack up any buffet leftovers and refrigerate them.
Offer to serve
It is difficult to maintain the hygiene of buffets when multiple hands are in the food. Having a buffet host or hostess who can serve items reduces the number of people who touch the food, potentially ensuring illness does not spread.
Keep items covered
This is especially handy when foods are served outdoors and may be susceptible to flies and other insects. Few people want a meal with a side dish of ants, flies or gnats. Not only can insects be off-putting, they can carry diseases that spread to the food.
Prevent fire hazards
Keeping food warm for serving may require the use of electrical serving dishes or chafing dishes heated with gel fuel canisters. Place buffet tables in remote areas to reduce the likelihood that open flames are bumped into and knocked over. Do not stretch extension cords or plugs across areas of high traffic. Keep a watchful eye on young children and always keep fire extinguishers close to serving stations.
Use plastic or coated-handle serving utensils to prevent guests from burning themselves while making their plates. Keep these utensils on serving platters nearby rather than resting them in the hot pans.
Wait for water in chafing dishes to completely cool before attempting to pour it down the drain. Do not move hot appliances until they have cooled off.
Buffets are a convenient way to feed crowds. Maintaining foods and hygienic serving stations can keep hosts and guests safe.
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