Now more than ever, food safety and a safe eating venue are critical aspects that event or party planners must meticulously address.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) has been constantly raising public awareness about contaminated food and continuing cases of food poisoning. The CDC recently reported that each year, about 128,000 of the 48 million Americans who get sick, have been hospitalized for eating contaminated food; to which an estimated 3,000 have died.
Apparently, incidents of food poisoning continue to happen. Last year, some of the causes of illnesses have been linked to consumption of ground beef, raw turkey, romaine lettuce, cut melon and peeled hard-boiled eggs being sold in bulk.
CDC’s Director for Foodborne Illness Division, Dr. Robert Tauxe, commented that the figures indicate that more needs to be done in order to make food safer. He cited that the two most common causes of bacterial infection, salmonella and campylobacter, have become perennial problems.
Although salmonella bacteria thrive mostly in animals such as chicken, cattle and swine, they can spread through animal feces. The CDC has ascertained that these bacterias can now come from any type food as a result of cross contaminations. Campylobacter is the most common cause of diarrheal illness in the U.S. which humans usually acquire by consuming raw or undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk or any food that has been contaminated with the bacteria.
According to Dr. Tauxe, the difficulty in understanding food poisoning is due to the fact that many cases go unreported, while constant changes in production practices and eating habits continue to transpire. The CDC Director warns that
“For some reason, campylobacter is making people ill with lots of different fingerprints.”
The CDC therefore is urging food retailers and food service operators such as restaurants, caterers, transporters and venue staff to be more vigilant in complying with Food and Safety regulations. Management plans and systems must be in place, inasmuch as salmonella and campylobacter can spread easily by simply coming in contact with other food products.
Although events and party organizers are not directly involved in the actual procurement, preparation and handling of food served at venues, having a detailed and well-defined Food Safety Manage Plan will ensure the safety of event attendees and all other stakeholders involved.
Food Safety Management Plans in Relation to Event Planning
Given that event planners are not directly involved with the handling, preparation, delivery, and catering of food, their Food Safety Management Plan must focus on ascertaining that all other parties contracted observe faithful compliance with their own food safety management systems.
Critical considerations include but are not limited to the following:
1. The venue’s most recent health inspection score.
2. Food and hygiene certification of the members of the culinary team.
3. Training and certification of the food handling crew.
4. The restaurant or caterer’s Food Safety Management Plan particularly in relation to food sourcing requirements and their authentication; food recall responses, awareness about latest food-safety advisories, labeling of food and beverages on buffet tables, as well as the availability of in-house medical treatment and responder.
5. The FSM plan and what it says about methods of communicating, preparing, labeling and serving of speciality meals for addressing dietary preferences and allergies.