[Sca-cooks] health dept. RE: kitchen tips

Avelyn Grene avelyn at greneboke.com
Wed Aug 20 13:40:19 PDT 2008

Officially, health department involvement depends on the rules of your
state/county.  In Ohio, for instance, non-profits are exempt from health
inspections (however, this does not mean that they haven't shown up).

As far as the specific case mentioned about keeping pasta held over
multiple hours, based on the FDA recommendations, it must be held at at
least 140 degrees, but for no more than 4 hours max.  The "authorities"
may have a problem with the pasta being in a cooler, as it is not
necessarily made of food-grade materials, and not everyone remembers to
sanitize coolers before putting ready to eat food in them.  They would
prefer the pasta to be in food safe bags, inside the cooler.

You do not necessarily need to pass a food safety course to be "legal"
(again this may depend on your area).  Just because you passed the test
does not mean that you are following the rules!

If you are looking to be "legal," the best thing to do is go to your
county health department (of the county you are serving in).  They can
tell you what you need to do, and will even help you do it!  A temporary
permit may be required, and you probably will be inspected because of it,
and this is a Good Thing(tm).  The permit rules are easy to follow.  If
you show initiative, and ask for help from your health inspector, they are
usually more than happy to help - they are there to keep people from
getting sick, not to harrass the cooks.

Also, I taught a class entitled "Food Safety in the SCA" at Pennsic - I
will post the link to the handout this evening.

Avelyn Grene
-Servsafe certified

Lady Avelyn Grene
Apprentice to Master Edouard Halidai
Chronicler and Historian for Barony Flaming Gryphon

The Commonplace Boke of Lady Avelyn Grene

> I agree with knowing your local food rules but... the site you gave
> (though
> helpful) is for people selling food to the public. We come under the same
> category as church fundraising suppers with our feasts, Inns are a slight
> gray area, but having a food booth like at a Library Renfest comes under
> the
> local Health Department. There are exceptions to the latter.
> I consider it a plus for the group of people going to work in the kitchen
> at
> feast to have taken a handlers coarse so they have an idea of food safety.
> Some places it is expensive (said to be $10. Here where I am at it is $2,
> though they are talking about getting a new video and will raise the price
> to $3.
> De
> -----Original Message-----
> I have to wonder if this method would be approved by a county public
> health
> department or restaurant/kitchen inspection crew.
> The general rules are "When cooked *food* will not be
> served immediately, it is essential to hold it properly
> (above 140°F) or to cool it as quickly as possible."
> http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/Booklets/Food_Safety_Temp._Events
> .pdf
> Can you really insure that meats or pasta held in this manner in a cooler
> will stay above 140 degrees for the number of hours you indicate?
> How can you monitor this to the satisfaction of the authorities?
> Has this method been approved by a public health department?
> I guess my tip would be to know what the health and safety rules/public
> health rules are that govern your feast and the kitchen you are working
> in?
> In many areas you may be able to bring in baked cookies or plain pastries,
> but all other foods must be cooked/prepared on site. Do you need to pull a
> permit for the feast? Do you need to pass a food safety course to be
> legal?
> Liability wise, of course, if something happens (and in these days of food
> poisoning cases and food recalls across the country who can be sure) it's
> likely your homeowners insurance and personal liability that will get
> tapped. Are you covered for a lawsuit?
> Johnnae
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