Hit The Buffet And Stay Well? Damn Straight You Can

Three important food safety rules you need to know.

There's nothing quite like a buffet. It's all things excellent -- tasty and inexpensive and, for some inexplicable reason, hilarious fun especially when you're with at said buffet with folk you love. But here's the bad news -- buffets have a dark side.

Turns out they're a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria. Bummer. That doesn't mean you need quit them altogether, mind. What you do need to do is take extra care.

While the majority of foods will be safe, Food Standards Australia New Zealand recommends that people don't take chances with their health and assume a restaurant is providing a healthy environment for the foods they’re serving.

"The general rule to be sure buffet food is safe is ‘keep it cold, keep it hot, or make it quick’," explains FSANZ manager Lorraine Haase.

Whether you're at a buffet, dinner party or family barbecue, it's good to know these three simple rules can apply in all situations. Here's what you need to know.

Hot Food Should Be Kept Hot

Australian Institute of Food Safety says food must be displayed at the right temperature. As a general rule, hot fare should be kept at 60 degrees Celsius or hotter. This will prevent harmful germs from growing and prevent food poisoning. At the bain-marie, if you can see the thermostat, make sure it’s at least 60 degrees Celsius.

The Same Goes For Cold Food

It’s equally as important to ensure cold food remains at the correct temperature. At the buffet, AIFS says you should only eat cold foods that are displayed in one of two ways: either in temperature-regulated refrigerated cabinets, or iced cabinets – ensuring the temperature is five degrees Celsius or less.

Prevent Cross-Contamination

To further reduce your risk of food poisoning, avoid eating at buffets that don't follow good health and hygiene practices. "The business must provide separate serving utensils and barriers to protect the food from people’s hands, sneezes and coughs, as well as supervision so food can be removed quickly if someone contaminates it," Lorraine says.

Feature image: Getty.