After you’ve finished decorating the office, you’re ready for the event of the year: the holiday party. This year-end celebration brings the team together for a fun morale boost full of festive drinks, treats, and cuisine. There are a number of ways you can handle the food aspect of your holiday party each with their own set of pros and cons. We’ve listed below some the considerations for a few of your options, as well as the safety precautions that will need to be addressed.
Probably the quickest and easiest option, hiring a caterer takes away a lot of the stress of party preparation.
But how can you be sure you’re hiring a caterer that will use food handling best practices? Reading reviews and asking for referrals are a great way to make sure that your caterer has a history of providing their services safely before you ever meet them. You can also check to see if they are licensed at local and state levels, which helps to ensure that they are certified in food safety and if they have any past violations. If your caterer ever becomes unresponsive, doesn’t have a clear cancellation process, or neglects to provide tastings, just be aware that you are taking a shot in the dark as to what you can expect from them on the big day.
You may also want to walk through the venue with them to make sure they have everything that they need. An experienced chef and staff will know better than anyone what to do to pull off the perfect party menu.
To be a little more hands-on, you could always choose to pick up pre-prepared appetizers from the local grocery store. Check that your selections are sealed and fresh. Be sure to keep hot things hot and cold things cold as you transport, serve, and store food to decrease the risk of bacterial growth. Before you set out your spread, wash your hands. Wearing food handling gloves is another way to prevent the spread of germs. If you decide to forego paper products, wash all dishes, cups, and utensils with hot and soapy water to get them squeaky clean for the party.
Even though your co-workers may feel like a second family to you, the way you prepare food should be held to a different standard than how you might do so at home. On top of everything that was mentioned for a pre-prepared party, if you’re cooking on-site, you’ll want to clean your cooking area. Using paper towels and green cleaning products help to keep your cooking and eating areas clean while using fewer toxic chemicals. Make sure that these areas are completely dry before you start to cook or put any food items on them.
In this scenario, food-handling gloves should be worn not just for serving the food, but throughout the entire meal-making process. This includes changing your gloves at least once between the preparation and serving phases. You should change your food-handling gloves as frequently as necessary to avoid cross-contamination.
Microwaves can be used to cook food, just be sure that it’s heated evenly by stirring and rotating it often. Make sure that all food reaches a safe internal temperature with a cooking thermometer before serving it. There is no “close enough” in food safety.
Entering into an unfamiliar space makes it all the more important to follow safe food handling procedures. Knowing how big of a space you have to work with allows you to be sure that the cooking area isn’t overcrowded and food is safe from cross-contamination. You’ll also need to know what equipment is provided on-site and what you’ll need to bring with you. Since you can’t be sure what sanitation state the site will be in, leave extra time for set-up including a scrub down of the cooking area. It’s better to do a little extra cleaning up front, instead of not cleaning and wishing you had.
Party Now, Party Later
In any of these situations, there might be some leftovers. Refrigerate any leftover food as soon as possible; the longer food sits out, the more likely it will grow bacteria. If perishable food like meat, eggs, or casseroles are left out at room temperature for longer than two hours, don’t save it, discard it. If you don’t send the leftovers home with your party-goers, make sure there’s enough room in the company fridge to allow air to circulate, keeping it cool and ready to reheat on Monday.
Party with US Standard Products
No matter where your party food is made, employee safety should always be a top priority. US Standard Products, a nation-wide provider of quality operational and safety products, has the food handling gloves, green cleaning products, and other food safety equipment you need to throw a safe and happy holiday party. Contact us today at 844-877-1700 to learn how we can help you prepare for the holidays and holiday parties in the safest way possible.
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