Outside Catering is a high-risk environment and due to the nature of the business you will come into contact with large numbers of people which will in turn increase the risk of food poisoning reaching a greater number of people.
Food poisoning outbreaks have historically happened due to food not being stored, prepared, cooked and served properly. One of the main issues is poor hygiene practices especially in the Summer months, which is when the majority of these outdoor events tend to take place.
The warm environment creates a much greater risk of Salmonella and E. Coli, as they multiply much quicker in the warmer months.
All food businesses are required to provide and serve their food in a safe and wholesome manner. In order to ensure this is adhered to you need to be aware of the risks and hazards to your outdoor event.
Hand washing facilities
If you are serving “low-risk” foods such as confectionery, biscuits or olives for example, or if utensils are used to handle the food or the food is wrapped, the enforcement officer may deem it acceptable for you to use antibacterial wipes and/or disposable gloves. If you are handling “high-risk” foods, then the alcohol based hand sanitiser is ONLY ACCEPTABLE when used alongside a hand wash basin.
You are by law responsible for ensuring that hand wash basins are available for all food handlers. When handling and serving high-risk foods then hot and cold water must be present and the sink unit should have drainage facilities, therefore a separate fresh and waste water container within a purpose-built portable sink unit would be suitable if it is not possible to hard plumb your water supply.
Key points to note:
- Hand wash basins need to be fit for purpose and sufficient in numbers. They need to be accessible to all food handlers. Soap needs to be supplied and hygienic hand drying (disposable paper towels) at each wash hand station
- There must be separate sinks available for hand wash and food preparation, or a double sink unit
- Hot water must be readily available at all times
- Plastic bowls or plastic wash hand basins are NOT RECOMMENDED
Personal hygiene standards
- Hand washing – before starting work, after handling raw foodstuffs, after using the toilet, after breaks, after sneezing coughing or blowing your nose
These simple rules can go a long way to ensure you reduce the risks when catering for large groups of people.