If there is one thing to be said about British people, it is this: they love their food. Where there is an outdoor event, there is always a food stall or van catering it. And the weather doesn’t alter the British appetite either. There are outdoor food stalls at December Christmas markets, Summer festivals and British Food Fortnight.
The novelty of outdoor catering will never be lost on the British.
And neither should food safety.
If you are looking to join in the forthcoming celebrations, it is a good time to remind yourself of 5 important food safety tips.
The words “cross contamination” are repeated so often in the hospitality industry that they are almost a mantra instead of a warning. But that’s a good thing.
Even in the relatively controlled environments of an indoor restaurant you should always be aware of cross contamination. In an outdoor event, there are other things to take into consideration.
Outdoor events rarely provide the vast kitchens you might be used to. You might not be used to working in such small conditions. With all your food in such proximity, cross contamination is easy. Furthermore, your food preparation may be exposed to the elements and other unsanitary conditions.
Make sure before you start to prepare your foods that you have optimised the layout of your stall, and all food is adequately covered.
Have you been to the site before? Vendors sometimes take one off contracts on brand new festivals or temporary markets. If you are unfamiliar with the site, you should check out the site beforehand.
If you are to keep your food fit for human consumption, then you need to know your way around. You need to be sure about your access to water, where to dispose of waste fluids, and of course where you need to dispose of general waste.
Knowing your way around outdoor events will help you protect your food and workspace from contamination.
Exposure to the elements during outdoor events, especially in the colder weather, increases the risk of you becoming ill. In fact, you are more likely to become ill during the event due to overheating and dehydrating than you are food poisoning.
But you don’t want to be handling food whilst you are ill. So, drink a lot of fluids.
However, as an addendum, be careful what fluids you are drinking.
Drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol cause your body to use a lot of water breaking down the waste they produce. In short, you will urinate more and dehydrate if you are drinking caffeine or alcohol laden drinks.
Stay healthy, keep your food safe.
Do you know who the first aiders on the site will be? It’s true that most events will have first aiders, marshals or a medic’s tent. But do you know where the tent is situated. Will you be able to flag down a marshal? Will they have blue plasters if you do?
The simplest answer is to take your own first aider and kit.
You can guarantee you will have the first aid items you need if you bring them yourself. Fill your first aid box before you leave and then hope you don’t need it.
But if you do, at least you can deal with the issue with minimum fuss.
You may not have control over the temperature of your outdoor event. Especially, in the case of inclement weather. Things are a little less predictable when you are catering outdoors. But you still need to hold yourself to the highest of standards.
The adage “keep hot food hot, and cold food cold” might seem ridiculously blatant. But if you are storing cooked food in an outdoor event, you may not have the same storage time as you would in your restaurant. Make sure you are able to keep your food at safe temperatures throughout the event.
Whatever the event, it is there for people to enjoy. Nobody wants to become ill at a festival. And nobody wants to be responsible for ruining the event for someone else due to poor food safety standards.
Enjoy your outdoor event. Remember though, people should expect the same level of safety at a food truck as they would at a Michelin starred restaurant.