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Something In The Air & The Dangers Of Cross-Contamintation

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The subject of cross-contamination has generated a lot of discussion.

Therefore, I thought that you would be interested in some hints and tips from your colleagues that I have received, which I hope will be of benefit to you.

Seat Susceptible Customers Away From The Kitchen

This tip particularly applies to you if your kitchen is integrated within the dining area.

Fish proteins can become airborne in the steam released during cooking and may pose a risk to highly-susceptible people who suffer from a fish allergy.

There is also a small risk from inhaling foodstuffs in the form of dust, for example, nuts, wheat flour, soy flour and powdered egg.

Be aware that egg powder is present in many pre-packaged powdered mixes such as pancake or waffle mix, soup and sauce mixes.

Use Airtight Containers In The Kitchen

Ideally, allergenic foods should be stored separately from other ingredients.

If this is not possible, store them in airtight containers underneath your non-allergenic ingredients.

If you happen to drop the container or spill any of the contents, it will reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Don't Leave Allergenic Food Lying Around

A couple of clients have told me that they have stopped putting peanuts on the bar as a matter of course.

Occasionally when the peanuts ran out, staff would replenish the bowl with crisps, which could result in an unsuspecting guest coming into contact with peanut proteins.

If you do provide your customers with free bar snacks, ensure that the dishes are always changed or washed thoroughly every time the snack is replenished.

Don't Leave Allergenic Food Lying Around

A couple of clients have told me that they have stopped putting peanuts on the bar as a matter of course.

Occasionally when the peanuts ran out, staff would replenish the bowl with crisps, which could result in an unsuspecting guest coming into contact with peanut proteins.

If you do provide your customers with free bar snacks, ensure that the dishes are always changed or washed thoroughly every time the snack is replenished.

Be Extra Careful With Garnishes

Kitchen staff may assume that a garnish is just a garnish and isn't really an ingredient of the dish because it is used to enhance the presentation of the food.

However, the garnish might inadvertently introduce allergens to the dish in the form of a dressing containing soy oil and/or mustard on leaves or a sprinkle of nut topping on desserts.

Be Careful How You Arrange Your Buffet Or Self-Service Counter

Allergenic foods should be placed apart from non-allergenic foods in order to minimise the risk of cross-contamination caused by spillage from one container to another or the same set of serving tongs being used for several different foods.

Be Aware Of Inadvertent Contamination

Common shortcuts to be avoided include:

  • Staff handling an allergenic food such as peanuts and then serving a glass of water to a customer
  • Staff using their pockets to carry utensils that may leave an allergen residue such as a cheese grater
  • Trays not being thoroughly washed between servings

If In Any Doubt, Always Advise The Customer Against The Dish

If your serving staff are not 100% sure about the makeup of a dish, they should advise the customer against ordering it.

This is particularly relevant in the case where the packaging for an ingredient used in the dish states that it 'may contain' a particular allergen.

In these cases, you are advised to contact the supplier to verify exactly what is meant by the wording on the label and have it confirmed to you in writing.

I remeber what my mother used to say to me.

"Its always better to be safe than sorry".


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