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Food-safety strategies for safer delivery and takeout

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Food delivery and takeout was once considered a luxury, but they’re now recognized as a mealtime necessity. Consumers purchase takeout 10 or more times per month, according to Technomic’s 2016 Takeout & Off-Premise report.

Despite the growth in delivery sales, many operators overlook food-safety protocols when handling, cooking, storing and transporting off-premise orders. Hot or cold ready-prepared meals are perishable and can cause illness when mishandled. Proper management is essential to ensure food is safe to eat.

Food safety in the kitchen

Food safety for delivery items starts with following these food-safety rules in the back-of-house:

  • Oil management: Proper cleaning and disposal of oil can help maintain kitchen safety for workers, which can in turn help prevent workplace injuries—which are costly for operators. Managing cooking oil is a dreaded task, but with technologies in place to help process it, worry can be a thing of the past. Automated solutions can also make it easy for employees to add, filter and dispose which means your fried food is being cooked in optimal fresh cooking oil.
  • Cleanliness: Food safety begins by washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before handling food, as well as after handling food.
  • Food handling: Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “danger zone.” Perishable foods left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. If temperatures are above 90°F, perishable foods should not be left out longer than one hour. Also, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting boards, knives and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
  • Cooking temperatures: Cook proteins to the required minimum internal temperature.
  • Food storage: Refrigerate perishable food within two hours at 40°F or below or freeze at 0°F.

Food safety during delivery

Delivering foods from kitchen to customer can prove to be challenging without the right tools. When a food order is ready to be delivered, operators often pack hot foods with cold foods, which causes foods to reach unsafe temperatures. During delivery, cold and hot foods should be in separate packaging and, more importantly, in separate insulated delivery bags.

Insulated delivery bags are versatile additions to any operation. Choosing the right bag depends on the delivery program a concept uses (third party vs. in-house). Bags are available in different styles like nylon, vinyl, heavy duty, sheet pan, cooler, pizza and food pan for catering. There’s also different types of foam insulation to consider, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU) and polyester.

Food safety post delivery

Storage and reheat instructions should be included with food deliveries.

  • Foods delivered cold should be eaten within two hours, refrigerated at 40°F or below or frozen at 0°F for eating at another time.
  • Refrigerate hot delivered meals if not planned to be eaten immediately. 
  • Reheat meals to 165°F using a food thermometer.
  • Remove any stuffing from whole cooked poultry before refrigerating.
  • Reheat soup or gravy to a rolling boil.
     

Operators can address food safety with simple adjustments on how they prepare, cook, store and delivery food and incorporate automation into their kitchen operations, ensuring food is safe to eat.

This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies

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