With summer upon us, many restaurants and other facilities offer outdoor food services at events such as BBQs, picnics and other live station productions away from the indoor kitchen. While these events can be a lot of fun for both guest and food-service worker alike, it is important to take extra precautions to follow ServSafe MN regulations and keep the food you serve your customers as safe as possible.
ServSafe MN and Outdoor Events
There are three major challenges when offering outdoor food service to your guests.
- Hand washing
- Proper overhead covering
Keeping your cooking and serving utensils clean and free from the bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses can be a challenge at any outdoor location. In most cases, your dishwasher will be back in your indoor kitchen, or, in the case of an off-site catering event, you may not have access to a dishwasher on-site. It is vital that you have enough serving utensils on hand in the event that the ones in use become soiled or contaminated in any way. Having a properly mixed and stored sanitizer solution is also an important step in making sure that you can keep your preparation surfaces, tongs, knives and other utensils free from harmful bacteria.
Another major challenge when conducting any kind of outdoor food preparation is making sure a hand washing station is available at the location where food is being prepared. Health department hand washing rules still apply, and you must have a hand washing station on-site. This may take some planning and a financial investment on your part. There are portable hand washing stations that meet current health code rules that are able to store hot water or heat water on demand when attached to an approved water source. Your local health department office should be able to direct you to the appropriate portable hand washing station should you be considering cooking outdoors for any special event.
In most jurisdictions, any outdoor cooking station and food-storage areas should have the proper overhead coverings. Depending on your needs, a portable awning may meet your local health department’s regulations. However, if outdoor service is part of your regular plans, you may wish to invest in a more attractive and permanent solution. Rules for overhead coverings do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so you may wish to consult with your health inspector to come up with a game plan to make sure that you have covered your bases and are providing a clean environment to prepare food for your guests.
At Safe Food Training, we love going to BBQs and other outdoor locations to enjoy the cuisine of summer. Does your facility offer any outdoor dining options that may fall under unique ServSafe MN rules?