21 questions to grill  catering companies in Sydney and ensure food safety standards

Large-scale catering is now a big part of large events like weddings, outdoor parties, corporate events, and more. People choose catering companies based on how good their food is and presentable it looks. It’s also incumbent upon them to abide by food safety standards. They’ve got to be wary of the dangers of bacteria in raw and undercooked food.

It’s important for caterers to make sure that the food they serve is safe to eat. 

When you eat out, shop at different stores, or cook at home, there’s no doubt that you think about how well the food is made. The same goes for catering for large events – their health, safety, and potentially their future depend on it.

In this article, we’ll cover what food safety means in Australia, the 4Cs of safety, what questions to ask your caterer in order to ensure food safety standards, and why you should consider Boardwalk Catering for your large event.

What is food safety in Australia?

Food safety in Australia refers to the measures and regulations implemented to ensure the production, handling, and consumption of food is safe and free from hazards that could harm human health. It involves various practices, such as proper food handling, storage, preparation, and adherence to strict hygiene standards enforced by government agencies like Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and state and territory health departments. The goal is to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses and maintain high standards of food quality and safety throughout the food supply chain.

The 4Cs of food safety Australia

Caterers should follow the 4Cs of food safety and food hygiene to keep food safe – and they’re cleaning, cooking, cross-contamination, and chilling. These 4 simple rules cover the most important ways to adhere to Australian food safety standards.

Cleaning

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) says that one of the most common reasons for prosecution is that a place wasn’t cleaned well enough. Cleaning is critical. It stops germs and allergens from spreading, keeps pests away, and is therefore required by law.

Catering companies in Sydney must have stellar cleaning procedures and schedules to make sure that the places where food is stored, prepared, served, and eaten are squeaky clean and safe.

Cooking

Some catering companies in Sydney offer cooked food that’s either made on-premise and some companies do it off-premise. Before serving, food must be cooked thoroughly. Otherwise, your guests are prone to food poisoning; this is especially true of high-risk foods like meat, poultry, fish, and rice.

Bacteria can be killed by cooking at the right temperature for the right amount of time. The cooking method, time, and temperature hinges on the type of food you’re going to serve. Catering companies, at least the good ones, usually follow the cooking instructions on food packaging (if there are any), and before they serve it, they always make sure the food is piping hot. 

When cooking, food should reach at least 70ºCelsius and stay at that temperature for 2 minutes (or at least at an equivalent temperature and time, like 80ºC for 6 seconds). Food that has been reheated for 30 seconds should be at least 75ºC.

Cross-contamination

Foodborne infections are typically caused by the spread of pathogenic germs between people, food, surfaces, and equipment. This is referred to as cross-contamination – and it’s one of the leading causes of food poisoning, says the Food Standard Agency (FSA). It can also occur with chemicals, such as spraying chemicals into the air, which can end up on food, surfaces, and equipment. Cross-contact, on the other hand, has to do with allergens. That’s where allergen-containing products are often mistakenly transferred to allergen-free ones.

Catering companies in Sydney must take every precaution to avoid both cross-contamination and cross-contact. How do they do it, you ask?

  • Personal hygiene
  • Separate areas, equipment, and cutlery for different types of foods
  • Cleaning/disinfecting equipment and cutlery
  • Proper food storage
  • Covering exposed food, like buffets
  • Pest control

Chilling

Certain foods, like those with expiration dates and ready-to-eat foods, must be kept refrigerated to be safe. Although chilling doesn’t eliminate hazardous bacteria, it does prevent their growth. 

Catering companies should ensure proper food cooling and preservation. Refrigerator temperatures are at or below 5ºC, and freezer temperatures are at or below -18ºC. When using cool boxes, the temperature must be kept constant and checked.

21 Questions to grill your caterer and ensure food safety standards 

To know if your caterer abides by food safety standards, ask the following questions:

  1. Are you familiar with the Australian Food Standards Code, and do you adhere to its guidelines?
  2. Do you have a valid Food Safety Supervisor certificate?
  3. What measures do you have in place to ensure proper food hygiene during preparation, storage, and transportation?
  4. Can you provide details about your food storage facilities, including refrigeration and temperature control systems?
  5. How do you handle cross-contamination between different food items to prevent allergen contamination?
  6. Do you have a documented food safety plan in place? If so, can you provide a copy for review?
  7. What training and education programs do you have in place for your staff regarding food safety?
  8. Can you provide references or testimonials from previous clients that highlight your commitment to food safety?
  9. How often do you conduct internal audits or inspections to ensure compliance with food safety standards?
  10. Are you familiar with the specific regulations and requirements for handling and serving food at events or functions?
  11. Do you have proper procedures in place for monitoring and recording food temperatures during cooking and holding?
  12. How do you handle the disposal of food waste and ensure it is done in a hygienic and responsible manner?
  13. Are you aware of the potential risks associated with foodborne illnesses, and how do you mitigate these risks?
  14. What measures do you take to ensure the freshness and quality of ingredients used in your catering services?
  15. Have you ever had any food safety violations or received warnings from regulatory authorities? If yes, how did you address those issues?
  16. Can you provide details about your supplier selection process to ensure they meet food safety standards?
  17. Are you able to accommodate special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, or halal options, while maintaining food safety?
  18. How do you handle food recalls or product withdrawals, and what steps would you take to inform your clients in such situations?
  19. What insurance coverage do you have in place to protect against food safety-related incidents?
  20. Are you certified by any reputable food safety organisations or associations?
  21. In the event of a food safety incident or outbreak, what is your procedure for investigating and addressing the issue, and how do you communicate with clients and affected parties?

How Boardwalk Catering adheres to food safety standards

Boardwalk Catering stands out as a top choice for Sydney events not only because of our delicious meals and premium catering services but also our unwavering adherence to food safety standards in Australia. We go to great lengths to ensure that the highest food standards are followed throughout the catering journey. 

One aspect that sets up apart is our implementation of 24-hour monitors for our fridges and freezers. In fact, Boardwalk Catering is one of the very few catering companies in Sydney that use this, acting as an additional safeguard to immediately alarm us should temperatures exceed a certain threshold.

By continuously monitoring and maintaining optimal conditions, we prioritise food safety and food freshness. You can trust that we’ll go above and beyond to provide a worry-free and memorable catering experience for your event. Boardwalk Catering’s comprehensive approach to food safety includes strict cleaning practises, meticulous cooking techniques, and proactive measures to prevent cross-contamination and cross-contact.