Q:The website isn't clear about what is required for caterers. Do I need a restaurant license? Do I need a food handlers certification?
Hi. Yes, you need a restaurant license. You will be inspected 2 times a year just like a restaurant. Your fee falls in the lowest bracket with 0 -15 seats. A commissary license will not work for you.
All food handlers need valid food handling cards. New 2012 Food Sanitation Rules are in effect starting July 1, 2013, so make sure you know about those changes. You can go on line at check them out at Oregon Health Authority, Food Safety division. Good luck with your new venture.
Food Code 101 – Inadequate Cooking
The way we cook our food is as important as the care we use when preparing and storing it. Inadequate cooking is a common cause of food poisoning. Cooking meats to the proper temperature kills the harmful bacteria that can make people sick. One of the foundations of food safety is knowing the proper cooking temperatures and making sure your cooks know them too. A good thermometer is essential in ensuring proper cooking temperature. See our article on the different types of thermometers, by guest author Matt Hoffman, REHST.
The new probe thermometer sanitation rule OAR 333-150-0000,CHAPTER 4-302.12 requires that, if you are cooking thin meats such as burgers and chicken breasts, you are required to have a small-diameter probe thermometer for an accurate read. You also want to make sure you know how many seconds the thermometer needs to get the proper reading. Some are 3 second, some 12 and some are requiring being in the product for 20 seconds. Know your equipment.
Kitchen Culture #5 - Justice and Equality for All
Kitchen culture is a whole set of values, attitudes and way of doing things that are accepted by the chef, cooks (back of house, BOH) and front of house (FOH) staff. The culture defines rules of behavior, written and unwritten, that employees help create as members of the community and are expected to live by. Please check out the previous articles on Kitchen Culture, at chefsconnection.org, to get up to speed.
So now that you have some ideas from your staff and have agreed to start implementing one or two, you need to start leading them into this new direction. The task that lies ahead of you is to genuinely encourage their involvement and engagement from here on out. I might suggest you keep a suggestion box available so you don’t have employees barking out ideas and suggestions at inappropriate times.
Let’s say some of the suggestions that were agreed upon by the majority of staff were to exhibit mutual respect and equality for all members of the staff. The primary gripe from the FOH staff was that they were not treated equal to the BOH staff, and that the BOH treated the FOH staff without respect. This created a lively conversation, as it is an age-old dysfunctional relationship.
This can be the ideal place to start, because it will allow you to begin practicing your own change in leadership style to one of participatory (involves all members of a team) rather than autocratic (make decisions independently). This shift can be as dramatic as you want it to be.
Here’s a few scenarios to get your started…
Under the Microscope - The World of Thermometers By Matt Hoffman, REHST
A more scientific look into our everyday equipment.
New food code changes this year require that restaurants serving thin foods such as hamburger patties and fish fillets provide a small diameter probe thermometer to check temperatures. Some operators have asked questions like, “ Aren’t all probe thermometers thin tipped?” and “Can I use an infrared thermometer?” I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss different types of thermometers and their intended use. Here’s an overview of three of the most common designs.
Bi Metallic Probe
The bi metallic probe is one of the most widely used and inexpensive types of thermometers. These devices typically contain a coil of two different metals bonded together in the center of the probe. The expansion and contraction of these metals causes the coil to wind or unwind with temperature changes. This action actuates the dial on the top of the thermometer, indicating food temperature. When these thermometers are inserted into food, it must be inserted to the notch on the stem, so that the entire coil is immersed in the product. The temperature reading, then, is an average food temperature over the entire length of the coil. Bi metallic probes typically must be inserted into the food for a longer period of time, sometimes up to a minute, to register an accurate reading. The image below shows a cross section of a bimetallic probe.
Line Up - Bugs in the Food
Bugs in the food are microorganisms know as biological hazards. They are bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can get into our food and make people sick. This is what a foodborne illness is.
Bacteria are considered the greatest threat, and we will cover them first. They grow fast in foods that are warm, moist, protein-rich and low in acid.
- Prevention: proper holding temperature - both hot (greater than 135°F) and cold (less than 41°F); cooking food to the proper internal temperatures (nothing raw or undercooked); proper cooling; excellent personal hygiene (handwashing!); effective cleaning and sanitizing procedures (prevent cross-contamination).
- Some of the bacteria you may be familiar with are Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella,Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinum, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter.
Mobile Minutes - The Potential Dangers of Household Refrigerators in a Food Cart By: Clay Sievers- Intern, Portland State University
One of the most important and often overlooked decisions to make when operating a new or pre-owned mobile food cart has to do with refrigeration. Many new owners will buy or rent food carts already equipped with household refrigerators. Knowing the importance of proper cold-holding and also understanding the differences that exist between household and commercial refrigeration will not only make sure your food items stay cold, but also reduce the risk of sickening your customers. Especially with the upcoming summer months quickly approaching; more people equal more products that must be kept cold. This becomes hard to do because the summer air that warms each day can also make the inside of a food truck feel like a sauna.
A domestic unit in a professional environment doesn’t work too well. Can you see some cross-contamination issues? If not, call me!
When it comes to decreasing the danger linked to food borne illness, there are a number of things that can be done to ensure food items are handled safely. Proper hand washing and personal hygiene are primary; however, keeping food cold (at or below 41°F) is equally as important. With that in mind; refrigeration units do differ in their overall ability to keep food cold.