Safe Food Handling on New Year’s Eve

Essential food handling tips to keep your guests safe this New Year’s Eve.
Heated buffet tray
December 30, 2023

With New Year's Eve fast approaching, it’s time to make those last few preparations for the big event. Whether you’re hosting a private party or working as part of the hospitality industry this New Year’s Eve, it’s imperative that you handle the food you serve correctly in order to keep your guests safe.

There is a lot to consider when organising NYE celebrations, but you should always prioritise food safety. Ensure that your event goes smoothly by following the essential food handling tips outlined in this blog.

6 Essential Food Handling Techniques for New Year's Eve

Being sick isn’t anyone's idea of fun. Fortunately, the six methods outlined below can all help prevent food-borne illnesses and allergic reactions from crashing your NYE party:

1. Maintaining Personal Hygiene

When preparing food, you should always start by considering your own hygiene. Regular hand washing and the use of disposable gloves can significantly reduce the spread of harmful pathogens, especially when handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water before handling food and if opting for disposable gloves, be sure to change them regularly, especially when moving from one ingredient type to another.

2. Cleaning and Sanitising

Regular cleaning and sanitising of food preparation areas and equipment is vital. Ensure all surfaces and utensils are cleaned with appropriate products to safely eliminate potential pathogens.

Extra care should be taken when using hazardous substances such as bleach or detergent as they can cause chemical contamination in food. Never store chemicals alongside food items, and only use cleaning products that are deemed suitable for food preparation environments.

3. Preventing Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is a leading cause of food-borne illnesses. It’s the process by which harmful pathogens are transferred between different food items and most commonly occurs when preparing raw meat, poultry and seafood. To prevent cross-contamination, Food Handlers should:

  • Use separate utensils and chopping boards for different food types, especially raw meats and vegetables.
  • Never reuse plates or surfaces that have held raw food without cleaning them.
  • Always wash hands and change gloves when switching between tasks.

4. Storing Food Safely

Unless stored correctly, perishable foods can become a breeding ground for harmful pathogens. In Australia, the Food Standards Code recommends keeping cold food refrigerated at or below 5°C. If storing food items in a freezer, they should be kept at a temperature of -18°C or lower.

There is more to safe food storage than temperature control; it’s also imperative that the correct food containers and wraps are used to organise and preserve food. Use durable, airtight, food-grade containers that are clearly labelled to store perishables. Reusable containers must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after each use.

Cooking at Safe Temperatures

Cook all foods to their recommended internal temperature and use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked thoroughly as this is essential for killing harmful bacteria. Here are the recommended temperatures for meat, poultry and fish:

  • Beef, lamb, pork, lamb and veal: 63°C (3-minute rest time)
  • Minced meats and sausages: 75°C
  • Poultry: 75°C
  • Fish: 63°C

6. Safe Serving Practices

New Year's Eve parties can last several hours, and with buffet meals being a common component of these events, it may be necessary for food to be kept at a safe temperature for a prolonged period in order to prevent food-borne illnesses. Perishable foods should not remain at room temperature for more than two hours. In warmer environments, a one-hour limit should be imposed.

If you intend to serve hot buffet food, it must be kept at a temperature of 60°C or higher to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens. This can be done through the use of slow cookers and bain-maries.

Chilled foods must remain below 5°C. To do this, it’s recommended that you use portable refrigeration units or ice trays. Both methods can be effective, but ice trays should only be used as a short-term solution. If your NYE celebrations are set to last several hours you should instead opt for electric-powered refrigeration.

Responsibilities of a Commercial Food Businesses

In Australia, food safety is both a moral and legal responsibility for commercial food businesses. From a legal perspective, compliance with food safety training requirements is essential for avoiding fines and ensuring customer well-being.

Proactive participation in Food Handler training not only reduces the risk of legal issues, but it can also protect business reputation.

Food Handler Training

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Standard 3.2.2A is the legal framework for food safety training in Australia. All staff engaged in food handling activities must complete a professional training program that meets the requirements of FSANZ Standard 3.2.2A, such as the Food Handler course offered by the Australian Institute of Food Safety (AIFS).

The overarching purpose of Food Handler training is to help individuals enhance their knowledge and understanding of safe food handling practices while also developing their ability to mitigate food safety risks such as those that present themselves during catered events like New Year's Eve parties.

AIFS delivers a nationally recognised Food Handler course designed specifically for the hospitality sector. As well as covering the industry-specific unit of competency (SITXFSA005 Use hygienic practices for food safety), the AIFS Food Handler course educates hospitality workers on the following subjects:

  • Food safety laws and responsibilities
  • Food contamination and high-risk groups
  • Biological contamination
  • Other types of contamination
  • Food allergies
  • Cleaning and sanitising
  • Hand washing
  • Personal hygiene and workplace behaviour
  • Illness and onsite injuries
  • Time and temperature control
  • Working with food safely
  • Serving food safely
  • Food safety programs and reporting responsibilities

Course participants’ knowledge of these topics is assessed through quizzes, a case study and Observer Report exercises.

Register for AIFS Food Handler Training

As we countdown to 2024, prioritise food safety to ensure your New Year’s Eve celebrations are memorable for all the right reasons. Invest in quality Food Handler training to ensure the safety and satisfaction of your guests and pave the way for a successful year ahead.

Meet your moral and legal obligations by enrolling in the AIFS Food Handler course today. Want to know more? Get in touch and discover all the benefits of AIFS Food Handler training.