Food Service Display Practices

Close up picture of a chef preparing a stainless steel bowl full of assorted salad with salad ingredients

There are many practices in food service display to ensure that a food outlet is not putting customers at risk. The operation of the food service display must be safe for staff and patrons and result in excessive noise, fumes, or heat. Listed below are a few critical food service display practices. – What are they and why? A good display can help your business stay sanitary while improving customer satisfaction.

Disposable utensils

The ban on non-recyclable/non-compostable disposable food packaging went into effect on July 1, 2010. It also affects utensils and straws. In addition, food service businesses must use compostable utensils and straws. It is also important to note that using EPS foam in food packaging is prohibited. These items are considered harmful to human health and should not be used in food service.

To avoid contamination, sanitized equipment must be stored appropriately. Utensils and receptacles must be stored at least six inches off the floor. Fixed equipment must be protected from contamination, such as exposed sewer lines. Glasses and cups must be stored inverted and covered. A handle must be displayed.

Droplet protection devices

To maintain the highest standards for food safety, droplet protection devices must protect food displays from splatters and other hazardous materials. In addition, sneeze guards or similar droplet protection devices must be positioned above the displayed food and not interfere with customer access or serving utensils. These devices generally meet this criterion. Those not meeting these requirements may still be used but are not recommended.

To determine whether food protection devices are effective, you must first select the average mouth height of adult customers. This is the height from the floor to the display and is between 4.6 and 5.0 feet. Using these measurements, you should adjust the design to ensure that it covers all of the food being displayed. The droplet size is approximately 30 to 50 microns. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on installing food protection devices to achieve the highest levels of safety.

Proper height

There are specific requirements for a food service display. For example, counters and buffets should be 36 inches from the floor and have a protective device and solid vertical panel to protect the food. In addition, doors must be self-closing and permanently attached to the counters or buffets. If they are not, it is imperative to adjust the height of the counter and buffet. 

The average customer must be able to reach items displayed near eye level. The height of the service line cannot be higher than 22 inches; however, the maximum distance of the rearmost said item may exceed this limit if the food items are placed on top of chafing dishes or oval trays. A two-sided service line is acceptable if there is a central barrier. ADA-approved service line-height must be maintained to ensure everyone can access the menu and food.

Sanitary conditions

In a recent study, sanitary conditions at food service display practices were inadequate. Handlers and their attitudes toward food safety were not in line with the standards. Public health laws require regular training and food safety education, and these measures must be tailored to the local context. The sanitary conditions of food service display practices also suggest a health-conscious attitude by the service provider and are likely to increase vendor patronage and consumer confidence.

Sanitary conditions at food service display practices were assessed in 99 food establishments. The needs were considered using several variables: piped private water supply, flush toilet, closed ditch liquid waste disposal, and solid waste storage receptacle with a lid. The presence of animals near the display practices and proper cleaning procedures were also evaluated. Sanitary conditions at food service display practices were associated with the presence of a license.