I absolutely love trying the food made by street vendors and eating meals made in pop-up food trucks or hidden restaurants. From Kota to Pulled Pork, from Boerie Rolls to Gourmet Burgers, from Sandwiches to Salads, from Brownies to Triple Layer Frosted Cakes.
These pop-up “venues” can be found in caravans, containers, trailers, vans, stalls at markets, tables with umbrellas, a plank on some beer crates, attached to tuk-tuks, in garages and at open-air events.
One of my favourite places to visit is the Neighbourgoods Market. A concrete space that comes alive every Saturday with stalls serving a huge variety of delicious food: paella, curry, lamb on the spit, dim sum, cheeses, sausages, oysters, dolmades, pizza, pasta, etc.
Their food preparation hygiene is very good which has contributed to their success, however with a lack of space, refridgeration and frequently limited facilities, cross contamination and general food safety can pose a significant risk to pop-up food stalls. Bacteria such as Listeria and E.coli can be found on the most unlikely foods, including mixed salad leaves.
- Cooking temperatures: Ensure food is cooked to a core temperature of 75°C or above, and a food probe should always be used to check that correct temperatures are reached so that harmful bacteria are destroyed.
- Hand washing: Make sure you have access to appropriate facilities that allow all staff to regularly wash their hands properly.
- Food control: Keep all food appropriately chilled before cooking; typically 5°C or below. It is also important to ensure clear segregation between cooked and uncooked food and use separate working surfaces and utensils for each. Even non-perishable foods need to be safely stored so that they are not exposed to potential contamination. When it comes to prepared food, keep the time between cooking and serving it to a minimum. You should factor in an appropriate control for all waste, including effective disposal.
- Allergen control: You have a duty to train staff and inform customers about any dishes that may contain one or more of the 14 food allergens. These include eggs, peanuts, milk and many types of shellfish but the less commonly known ones include celery, mustard, cereals containing gluten, and lupin which includes lupin seeds and flour that can be found in types of bread, pastries and pasta.
- Cleanliness: Pop up kitchens are no different from permanent commercial kitchens when it comes to cleanliness. Make sure that you have a good supply of cleaning chemicals and equipment available at all times. Regular hand washing and plenty of hot water, detergent and clean disposable hand towels all need to be factored in.
- Cross contamination: Separate knives, cutting boards, utensils, pans, plates etc. should all be used, even in what is often a confined space and regularly washed.
- Health and safety processes: You must ensure the safety of all employees and customers at all times. This can range from the conditions in which they work to the colour of the plasters that should be applied to any cuts.
Practice Good Hygiene; Be Healthy; Be Happy! From Mama Gogga
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