Reusing food from a buffet line

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by Luked1281, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. Luked1281


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    I currently work at a private school. As I recall once food reaches a buffet line it is dead and cannot be reused. Yet this is a common practice here. I've been having a difficult time finding if this is a violation or not.
  2. Cdp


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    18 years Chef recent promo to Sous
    yes your right once its out it is out you can't control what happened when the food is out there
    someone put their finger in after they picked their nose or did someone put meth in it.

    point being it is out of your control hence why it would be binned.

    2nd of all you have to look at how long has it been on the buffett and then the cool down side reheating side this includes alot of vairbles
    but you know what.... i reckon every chef has used somethig off the buffet once wether it is a fruit bowl or the jus
    and yes i have done it not proud of it but i have done it.
    meezenplaz likes this.
  3. nicko

    nicko Founder of Staff Member

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    Former Chef
    It really depends on the food matter right and how long it has been exposed. For example if you have bread that has been out I see no issue with preparing breadcrumbs from it. If you have say a cold chicken salad appetizer then the risk is too high so no. If it is baked potatoes I would keep them and use them in a soup or meatloaf myself.

    Can you be more specific about what type of food is being reused?

    In my cooking history I once worked at a restaurant that served chips and salsa and the restaurant re-used the chips that were not eaten. Yuck.
    allanmcpherson and flipflopgirl like this.
  4. lagom


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    Professional Chef
    I’d like to add my two cents worth. Part of my business is cooking for for a private school, from scratch, for 1200 students and teachers grades 3 to 9. We cook everything thing at one school and transport about 1/2 down the street to a second facility.

    If it hits the buffet it go in the bin. Period. Kids and teachers self serve thus I have no idea( nor do I want to know) where their grubby little paws have been. This includes hot, cold,daily soup, bread, butter and other spreads. Only thing saved is oil and vinegar that are served from their bottles. To control waste is easy. We know how many are coming every day, and when. We don’t refill later in the day except for what we anticipate we will need and we cook in batches. Our waste is minimal of prepared food.

    Food that goes to the second serving area down the street is resuplied half way through service so waste is controlled there also.
    Unused,unserved Food that has never left the kitchen proper can be reused in salads, bread crumbs, sauce ect ect.
    We do this with 3 different main courses every day. After a while you should know how much of any given meal you serve you will need. The only thing that tosses a monkey wrench into the mix if we have a wide spread illness going through the school, say the flu, and we have massive absences.

    Hope that helps
  5. allanmcpherson


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    There is a place in my town that reportedly would collect the shells from touristy lobster dinners and use them for "bisque" . So gross.
  6. jcakes


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    Professional Pastry Chef
    You could always call your local Heath Dept and the age of caller ID they are going to know who you are and you can bet they will follow up and you might get sacked as a result. The fact that it's a private school could be a mitigating factor here; because the school is not open to the public, the regulations might be different. It doesn't make it right (or less disgusting) but it means the BoH can't do anything about it because the general public is not particularly affected.

    I would look at ServSafe books for proper holding times for cooked foods because *that's* the regulation you would be in violation of and that's where the enforcement would have to come. I hate saying this, but if someone became ill from eating re-used food, and they start tracking what the food was and if they find anything, you're toast.
  7. Jayvader


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    CIA Sept '99
    iirc if the foods are held properly ( time and temp and proper storage containers) and there is a sneeze guard then Legally things can be reused as long as the reheated foods have documentation that they were previously cooled from 135f-41f within 2 hours and then reheated the entire item must reach 165f for 15 seconds. and any prepared, non packaged food that is on display for more than 4 hours must be discarded

    tbh if reusing foods is that common someone should look at the average quantity required for service, something is being over prepared for the needs of the day, if the volume is necessary "most of the time" you can just use smaller containers to limit how much food is on display at one time leaving the same quantity of foods available but not exposed to the public

    the documentation time spent on payroll usually outweighs the savings from reused foods, it better to change how quantities are prepared and stored for service than to try and build a notebook procedure that will end up reducing the productivity of the staff