Originating in Japan, cat cafes are now beginning to make their way to the United States and gain in popularity. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a cat cafe offers the opportunity to grab a beverage and a snack while playing with frisky and friendly felines. Some cafes double as adoption centers or as non-profits to raise money for animal related charities. Whenever you mix live animals and food service, the looming issue becomes what Minnesota food safety certifications are required and how do you serve food safely in a restaurant full of cats.
Food Safety Regulations for Cat Cafes
No cat cafe currently operates in Minnesota, but local entrepreneurs plan to open one in Minneapolis by the end of the year, and if it’s a success more are sure to follow.
Cats have a mind of their own, and they don’t care what food safety regulations say, they’re going to do whatever they want and go wherever they wish. A few ideas come to mind to help prevent animals from contaminating food in these establishments.
- Separate food preparation from animals
- Provide one area designated for eating and one for interacting with kittens
- Serve prepackaged items and beverages that do not require on-site preparation
- Have hand-washing sinks or sanitizer stations readily available for guests
When we talk about separating food preparation areas from animals, we mean that there should be no chance that a cat could have access to prep stations or food. This problem could be solved by having one area for food, and a completely separated space for interaction with cute, fuzzy creatures.
Another solution can simply be to serve bagged items such as chips and snacks as well as beverages in cans, bottles or cups enclosed with lids. This greatly reduces the risk of cat dander or other pet related contaminates from mixing with food.
With this craze in its infancy in the U.S., only time will tell what health risks these attractions pose and what food safety certifications and regulations will have to be followed. How do you feel about the idea of a cat cafe?