Serving, self-service and displaying food safely

Food Safety SupervisorServing food safely relies on Food Safety Supervisors, ensuring that food handlerspractise good personal hygiene, and handling food safely which includes avoiding cross contamination. With regard to self-service areas, food staff will need to monitor the way clients or customers use the self-service equipment, to check that food is not being contaminated.


  • Delays in serving food can allow food poisoning bacteria to multiply

  • Food poisoning bacteria can multiply if potentially hazardous food is kept between 5°C and 60°C

  • Unclean serving utensils and other equipment may contaminate food

  • Poor food handling by staff and/or customers may contaminate food

  • Food may be contaminated by foreign objects that have fallen into it if uncovered or unprotected

  • Use of display decorations and garnishes can contaminate food

  • Food-poisoning bacteria can be transferred from an old batch of food to a new batch if they are mixed together; and

  • Some people can be severely allergic to certain types of food

 Controls and monitoring

  • Serve food as quickly as possible after preparation, and take into account the requirements of the 4-hour/2-hour guide

  • Don’t prepare food too far in advance of serving

  • Ensure that people who serve food or supervise self-service food displays have appropriate skills and knowledge for the tasks that they do

  • Ensure that – if staff serving food are using gloves, that they understand how to use gloves safely

  • Provide separate clean utensils for each food on display, or provide other methods of dispensing that minimises food becoming contaminated

  • Throw away single-use items after using them, including straws, paper towels, cups and plates

  • Ensure that protective barriers (for example, sneeze-guards) are installed to protect food in display cabinets

  • Refresh food displays with completely fresh batches of food; never mix old food with fresh batches

  • Use a clean and sanitised thermometer to check the temperature of potentially hazardous food on display (you do not need to check the temperature of every dish, just a representative sample)

  • Hot food should be held at 60°C or above: make sure that all potentially hazardous foods are thrown out if kept between 5°C and 60°C for four hours or more

  • Keep cold food at 5°C or below, if holding food cold

  • If you are displaying frozen food, it must be frozen hard (not partially thawed) or as the manufacturer specifies

  • Never reuse any self-serve food left over from the previous day onto the following day; and

  • Ensure that menus highlight allergenic ingredients in dishes if not apparent from the name of the dish, and advise staff so they may be able to assist customers with queries

Food Safety Supervisors must establish methods of monitoring the way clients or customers use the self-service equipment, to check that food is not being contaminated.