Over the past few months, we’ve been covering upcoming changes to the Minnesota Food Code, and in the course of our research, we’ve come across a proposed rule that allows food outlets to utilize reusable takeout containers for food and beverages. Since these containers are not always stored on site, adapting to this new opportunity will take a quick food safety training for reusable takeout containers. A simple procedure adjustment that will assure your product can be delivered in reusable containers with minimized risk of spreading food-borne illness.
A New Guide to Food Safety Training for Reusable Takeout Containers
A reusable take-home container prevents wasted paper products, and potentially reduces supply costs for food service providers. If you plan on supplying reusable takeout containers to your customers, you should follow these guidelines in the food code.
- Use only containers designed and constructed for reuse
- Takeout containers must be initially provided by the food establishment
- You must always clean, sanitize and inspect for food particles before refilling
Your local food service provider or restaurant supply store should have plenty of options for refillable containers that meet the health department’s criteria. It’s important to note that guests cannot bring a container from home and ask to have it filled with food. These containers must initially come from your facility. This provides two opportunities for business owners. First, it allows you to ensure that the container is safe for food. If you know where the container comes from it will be greatly reduce your risk. Secondly, marketing opportunities abound if you supply custom containers with your business’ logo and contact information. Having a refillable container that reminds customers of your establishment generates more revenue from return visits.
Always clean, sanitize and inspect returned containers at your facility. Also note, a guest cannot fill a reusable food container. The code requires an employee of the establishment fill the take-home food receptacle. Guests may fill beverage containers, however, if there is a contamination-free transfer process.
Considering the potential to reduce waste and packaging cost along with the branding/customer loyalty possibilities; will you provide your team with food safety training for reusable takeout containers and try this new takeout option once the rules take effect?