Food Safety Tips for Christmas Buffet

"Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way ……" The joyful carol reminds us that Christmas is around the corner. For many people, they need to stretch their brain to work out a busy yet fun-filled schedule for the festive holidays.

Deciding what to eat at Christmas time is no easy job as different people have different preferences and there is a great variety of choices from Chinese, Western and Thai foods to Indian and Japanese cuisines. Flipping through newspapers and magazines filled with restaurant advertisements, most people would opt for buffet with a great selection of foods which suits everyone.

Once opted for buffet, the next step is to choose a suitable restaurant. Among factors to be considered, the price and cuisines offered are of course important, but one should not overlook the hygienic condition of the restaurant. Make sure that the restaurant holds a food business licence and pay attention to its hygienic condition, staff's personal hygiene and food handling practices. Also, we should pay attention to the proper display and storage of foods, such as separate handling of raw and cooked foods, proper covering of foods and separate display of cold and hot dishes.

Buffets offer a wide assortment of foods including hot dishes, cold dishes and raw foods like sashimi and salads. Although sushi, sashimi and salads are food of choice for many people, we must be cautious when eating these high-risk foods. Cold dishes and raw foods should be put in a chiller or on ice with storage temperature at 4℃ or below, while hot dishes should be placed on heating apparatus with temperature at 60℃ or above. If cold dishes are not cold, hot dishes are only lukewarm or foods look or taste abnormal, you should avoid them. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with weakened immunity should avoid high-risk foods such as raw foods and cold dishes.

On the buffet day, remind your family members about good personal hygiene, such as washing their hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating and after going to toilet. Also, do give them the following tips: use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination; do not keep foods too long at room temperature; and use a clean plate to take foods each time instead of reusing the same plate.

A balanced diet is the key to good health. Do not overeat at buffets for the sake of getting your money's worth. Your stomach may be what suffers in the end. Always keep these food safety tips in mind while enjoying the Christmas Festival.