Food must be safely handled at all times. Misappropriate handling of food may cause the spread of several bacterial and viral infections. It is important for student bodies in any institution to adhere to a set of guidelines when handling food.
Here are some safety guidelines for the proper handling of clean drinking water and food at student events.
Handwashing and Personal Hygiene
Those handling or serving the food must maintain high standards of personal hygiene at all times. They must wash their hands with warm water and have access to disposable paper towels. If the event is outdoors and handwashing facilities are not available, gel hand wash with 60% should be used.
Other personal hygiene measures include:
- Hair should be properly restrained
- Remove all pieces of jewelry
- Tobacco use near the food must be strictly prohibited
Classification and Handling of Potentially Hazardous Foods
Hazardous food is capable of supporting the rapid growth of disease-causing microorganisms. Potentially hazardous foods include eggs, meat and meat products, fish, heat-treated vegetables, seed sprouts, and milk and milk products.
These foods should be handled as follows:
- Hot food must be kept above 135 degrees Fahrenheit and cold food at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot or cold food storing appliances should be available during the event.
- Any potentially hazardous food that remains during an event must be discarded immediately.
- Purchase ice from approved vendors and protect it from contamination.
- Any person with gastrointestinal abnormality symptoms or flu, fever, open wounds, and sores must not handle the food.
- Drinks and ice should be provided from pitchers or bottles and not common self-service points such as bowls. Also, it is important to use water softeners to improve water quality.
- All food products and paper utensils must be kept above the ground at all times. Ensure that there are enough utensils for everyone to avoid sharing.
Tips for Food Preparation at Events
- Acquire food from vendors that have been approved by a local authority at all times.
- Do not cook the potentially hazardous a day before the event as this may cause food-borne illnesses.
- Food that requires re-heating must be quickly heated to 165o F before service and kept above 135o F.
- Never thaw food at room temperature but do so in the refrigerator or a microwave oven or as part of the cooking process.
- Here are the minimum internal temperatures for cooking various foods:
poultry:165o F; pork:145o F; beef,mutton,fish:155o F
Guidelines for the Purchase of Food from Restaurants or Caterers
- The food must be prepared at a facility that has a license from a regional health authority and has satisfactory feedback in the last 12 months.
- The food must be rapidly transported to the event most preferably as soon as the event or festival starts.
- Make sure that you serve the food within an hour of arrival at the site.
- The food must be delivered in a clean truck and properly covered to avoid contamination. This also helps to maintain the ideal temperature.
- All potentially hazardous foods must be kept at the optimum temperature.
- The food must be covered when in public display to avoid contamination.