There are specific regulations governing equipment used for hot food display in food-service establishments and the operation of such service areas. Most of these are dictated by state laws, but compliance with federal standards is also mandated. |
There are some basic rules, such as those governing safe temperatures for holding and reheating comestibles that are displayed for self-service or served to order. Most foods must be kept hot enough to register an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Reheating already cooked dishes must be done rapidly to a minimum of 165 degrees.
There is a hazardous list, including and not limited to milk and milk products, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, and cooked vegetables. Great care must be taken to avoid contamination during ordering, preparation, cooking, holding, and serving foods. The regulations cover everything from the type of cutting board that can be used to the length of handle on serving utensils (to ensure that foods can be dispensed without being touched by human hands). There are also rules about protective coverings that protect displays from people breathing, coughing, and sneezing in the vicinity.
Basic rules of sanitation also pertain. Materials used for walls, floors, counters, protective shields, and service containers must be durable, non-absorbent, and easy to clean and sanitize. Electrical fixtures must comply with these directives, and light fixtures must have shatter-resistant glass.
Manufacturers are careful to design kitchen, buffet, deli, and vending equipment to comply with regulations set throughout the industry. Reading product information is an education in itself, but nothing is better than reading all regulations for yourself before purchasing new or used equipment or designing an area for housing displays of heated foodstuffs.
There is another reason for educating yourself on the requirements for any hot food display . If you know how these dispensing stations should be run, you can decide whether you actually feel safe eating from any particular one you encounter.
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