Offsite foodservice refers to the service of food in another location other than where it was prepared or cooked. This particular practice is prevalent among food service businesses, particularly those that offer catering services and certain schools that are known to prep food in a centralized location and then move it to their satellite locations for serving.
To guarantee the safety of both the food as well as those who consume it, those who offer offsite food services are always advised to pack food in insulated, leak-proof containers to limit the possibility of cross-contamination and maintain safe food temperatures.
It is also important you temp the food prior to it leaving your location as well as when you arrive on site. Nevertheless, read on to understand the proper method to transport food for offsite services as well as how to keep food safe before, during, and after transportation for offsite food service.
Recommended Methods For Transporting Food for Offsite Services
Truth be told, transporting food for offsite services, tend to necessitate extensive attention to food safety to guarantee that the food will be safe to consume. Nevertheless, below is a list to ensure you can properly transport food offsite:
- Utilize Suitable Containers
- Maintain Proper Temperature
- Separate Foods
- Secure Lids and Covers
- Label and Date
- Leverage Safe Transport Vehicles
- Stabilize Food During Transit
- Maintain Hygiene
- Plan Efficient Routes
- Monitor Temperatures
- Comply with Local Regulations
How to Keep Food Safe Before, During, And After Transportation For Offsite Foodservice
To guarantee the safety of both the food as well as those who consume it, those who offer offsite food services should take note of the directives noted below to ensure that the food will be safe before, during, and after transportation.
It is important you undertake the right practices and comply with the basics of food safety when preparing food for off-site service.
Once you are done with preparing the food, take great care to pack and label it for transportation. Ensure to pack the food in insulated, food-safe containers that are leakproof, like NSF-certified containers.
Make use of insulated containers since they are known to hold food at a safe temperature for longer, while a leakproof container limits cross-contamination.
When you are done packing, accurately label it with what it is, a use-by date and time, and reheating and serving instructions.
After that, take and record the temperature of each food item by utilizing a calibrated food thermometer to guarantee that the cold foods are 41ºF (5ºC) or lower and the hot foods are 135ºF (57ºC) or higher.
Keep in mind that food between these ranges in the temperature danger zone cannot leave your restaurant or food service operation. Your delivery vehicle will also need to be clean and free from signs of contamination or pests.
Food that slips into the temperature danger zone is one of the most common safety concerns that food service businesses have to deal with during transportation.
Truth be told, the insulated containers will do a valid job of retaining the food at a safe temperature but you will want to take the shortest delivery route.
Normally, you need to avoid traveling far to reach where you will be serving, but for distances greater than two hours, it’s recommended you take and record the food temperature.
According to experts, this will ensure that you understand whether the food is maintaining a safe holding temperature. If it’s not, you will have to decrease the time in which it will have to be served or tossed accordingly.
After Transportation and Setup
One thing you will want to confirm is that the catering site or satellite location possesses everything you require to set up and serve food safely.
This would include adequate water, handwashing, serving areas, and trash cans, which will need to be kept away from food areas. Once you arrive, you should temp each food and record it.
If you find out that a hot-held food is below 135ºF (57ºC), you should consider reconditioning it by reheating it to 165ºF (74ºC) for 15 seconds — but only if it has been less than four hours after you checked the temperature last. Most often, you might not be able to access cooking equipment, and a microwave isn’t ideal for large quantities of food.
If needed, you can hold food without temperature controls if you adhere to certain guidelines. It is possible to hold cold food without temperature control for up to six hours as long as it doesn’t exceed 70ºF (21ºC).
If, for instance, it was held at a safe temperature prior, ensure to label it with the time you removed it from refrigeration and when it will need to be served or tossed.
Aside from that, it is very achievable to hold hot foods without temperature control for up to four hours. But in that instance, you will have to label it with the time you removed it from hot holding at 135ºF (57ºC) or higher and the time it will need to be served or tossed.
Nevertheless, note that you cannot hold TCS foods without temperature control if you serve highly susceptible populations such as seniors, preschool-aged children, or people with conditions that compromise the immune system like cancer or diabetes.