Collective restoration and food security

What is collective restoration?

Collective catering is understood as an activity whose objective is to provide food to a group of consumers who have similar characteristics, be they universities, schools, residences, offices, hospitals, hotels, etc.

Populations destiny of collective restoration

It is true that, in some cases, the consumers to whom these prepared meals are destined are called vulnerable (groups that are more likely to suffer a problem when they consume an unsafe food). Therefore, we can distinguish between two target populations of collective restoration:

  • General population: consists in the supply of safe prepared meals for the general population (offices, catering, hotels, restaurants, etc.).
  • Vulnerable population: consists of the supply of safe prepared meals, but also adapted to the type of destination population. In the case of educational centers, the diet is modified according to the physiological needs of each stage of development. The preparation of a bottle is not the same as the preparation of lentils, therefore, it is necessary to take into account the particularities of processing, handling and service, always bearing in mind that hygienic requirements specific to each process must be met, to ensure that the food provided is safe.The same happens in the cases of nursing homes or hospitals, where the physiological needs and pathologies of each person must be taken into account in order to make menus adapted to each one of them (low in salt, low in fat, rich in calcium, etc.). This, in addition to carrying out a work of good practices during its handling, also involves the work of technical specialists in nutrition and dietetics.

Food security in collective catering

Food security in collective catering is based on three fundamental pillars:

- The self-control system based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
- Good hygiene practices (PCH): good handling practices (GMP) and good manufacturing practices (GMP).
- Traceability: knowledge of the raw materials used and products produced, as well as being able to remove any type of product in case of food alert or other type of warning.

Modalities of collective restoration

The requirements in food safety issues are also specific according to the links between the elaboration and the service, that is why we distinguish between those coming from a central kitchen or those that are elaborated in the center:

Central kitchen: in this installation the food products are prepared, cooked and conditioned. Later they are transported to the center where they will be consumed; they can be consumed directly or suffer in the center a pre-consumption treatment. The elaborations made in the central kitchen can be supplied to different dining rooms. The distribution can be made:

- In hot: the temperature during all transport must not be less than 65ºC. This causes the food does not lose organoleptic value, although it is true that the time between consumption and cooking is very limiting.

- Cold: it is a product that has been cooked and subsequently has undergone a process of abatement, this allows it to be transported in refrigeration. The transport conditions of this type of product are limited by the temperature that should always be between 0-4ºC. After its distribution at the destination site, regeneration is carried out (this stage must always exceed 75ºC in the center of the product). The transport in cold allows that the useful life of the plates prolongs, but increases the risk of contamination during the regeneration and, in addition, the plates suffer greater manipulation (in the central kitchen and in the kitchen of the center).

Kitchen in the center: it is considered that the complete preparation of the food is carried out in the center itself and does not suffer any type of transport. From the kitchen to the table. The requirements of these elaborations is that what undergoes a heat treatment and will be consumed hot must be maintained at> 65ºC until consumption. All dishes that are consumed cold, although they have undergone a heat treatment or should not be kept at <4ºC until the time of service.

In this sector of the collective restoration is essential to respect both the hygiene in the processes of preparation and the temperatures reached the product and temperatures maintained throughout the time interval between processing and service, the time between the two activities must never exceed 2 hours.

If these indications are respected, they will be able to serve foods that comply with the legislation, are safe, innocuous and of quality.


Irene Parra

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Irene Parra

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