03/12/2019 | Kate Dunston

Avoid giving the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas

03/12/2019 | Kate Dunston

Avoid giving the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas

Selling at a Christmas market is a great way to boost your end of year sales and spread some festive cheer. But, when you’re preparing and cooking food for people, it’s important that you have the correct knowledge. Here, Mike Hardman from catering equipment supplier, Alliance Online, discusses how to avoid giving the unwanted gift of food poisoning to your Christmas fair customers this year.

Christmas markets are one of the most popular events of the year for consumers, and they also provide a great opportunity for businesses to top up their earnings before the year is up. Along with fun activities to do and great gift stalls to browse, there is a growing interest in the street food that’s being provided at these festive events. But, with 47% of Brits reporting they’d had food poisoning before, it’s crucial your company is doing all they can to avoid making customers sick (Food.gov).

Here, I’ll be explaining what you should be doing to avoid giving the unwanted gift of food poisoning to your Christmas market consumers.

Remember the 4c’s

Food hygiene is incredibly important and while it can seem like a minefield of do’s and don’ts, you can make it simpler for yourself by remembering the 4c’s whenever you are handling food. These are:

Cleaning
Working on clean, disinfected surfaces with equipment that has been cleaned appropriately is crucial to limiting the spread of harmful bacteria. This is particularly important when moving between tasks and especially when handling raw food.

To ensure everything is cleaned at the correct times and to the right standards, it’ll help to have a cleaning schedule in place. This should show what needs to be cleaned and disinfected and when. For example, your surfaces should be disinfected after any raw meat touches them.

In addition, your cleaning schedule should also detail the cleaning procedures for your Christmas market stall, the products that should be used, when and for how long, as well as how they should be stored. This is so all staff can follow health and safety standards properly.

Cooking
Using the correct cooking times and temperatures will help to kill harmful bacteria in food. This is especially important when cooking meat. So, before you serve these dishes up, you’ll need to check they are steaming hot inside, the juices run clear, and there is no meat that is pink or rare, with the exception of steak.

Hot food must be kept at 63°C or hotter, but if it falls below this temperature for two hours or more, you’ll need to reheat it or throw it away. Be aware you can only reheat meat once, and this should be to the same standards as when you first cooked it to avoid giving your customers food poisoning. This means you’ll need to check the food is steaming hot throughout before you serve it up again.

Chilling
Chilling your food correctly can prevent harmful bacteria from growing on it, so if you’re serving or displaying cold foods, these should only be kept outside of a fridge for between 2–4 hours: anything longer than this and they’ll need to be discarded.

Food with use-by dates, dishes that have already been cooked, and ready-to-eat foods will need to be kept chilled, so ensure you have the means to do so within your market stall. It’s important all of your staff are aware of the storage instructions they need to follow and that they know which foods need to be kept chilled, what temperature chill units should be at, and how to cool food properly before putting it into the fridge.

Cross-contamination
Cross-contamination is the spread of bacteria between foods, preparation surfaces and catering equipment. This most commonly happens when raw food comes into contact with cooked food, causing bacteria transfer. This means it’s particularly important to store uncooked food underneath cooked dishes to prevent bacterial spread. This could be from raw food dropping onto the ready-to-eat foods below.

Bacteria can also spread from your hands if you’ve not washed them after touching raw food. Having precautions in place, such as using disposable gloves when handling, can reduce the chances of this and will help keep food poisoning off the agenda at your Christmas market stall.

Need help managing compliance in your Christmas Market Kitchen this season? Contact us today to find out more about our managed services solutions.