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Food Safety in Aged Care – Returning Food To The Kitchen

Is it OK to return unused food from a meal service back to the kitchen for use in other dishes, such as puree or making soup? The short answer is no. When we produce food for residents in aged care we must be aware of the safety of the food and what the business can do to ensure the food is as safe as possible, remember the most important thing is that the food must be safe and the business must do all it can to ensure that the food served to residents is always safe.

Various foods can be prepared by the kitchen and then be transported to resident areas for service, this food should not be returned to the kitchen to be used in other dishes as it may have been contaminated during its journey from the kitchen – and back again. The Food Standards Code (which all food businesses must abide by – even aged care), states that “a food business must take all necessary steps to prevent the likelihood of food being contaminated” (Standard 3.2.2 clause 7). Not using food that has been transported from the kitchen and then come back to the kitchen if it has not been used – is a necessary step to ensure food is protected from the likelihood of contamination.

Keep in mind that the Food Standards Code is the national standard for food safety, this is the standard that any auditor will use in order to determine if food at the facility is safe for residents. The Food Act (in various states), also provides for significant fines to individual food handlers (and businesses), for not following the Food Standards Code.

Remember that the food produced and held in the kitchen is done so in a controlled environment, (only trained staff are present and measures are in place to ensure the food is safe), once the food leaves the kitchen, this is no longer the case as food cannot be supervised all the time, (there are distractions and unforeseen situations), putting the safety of the food at risk.

Resident’s meals are an important part of their day – make sure the safety of their food is an important part of yours!