Avoiding cross contamination
If you want to cater for vegetarians you need to make sure that the food that you offer them does not become contaminated with non-vegetarian ingredients or food. The main cross contamination points to watch out for are:
Frying and deep fat frying
Chips deep fried in oil that fish or meat has been deep fried in is not acceptable to vegetarians. Separate deep fat fryers should be used or, if that's not possible, the oil should be changed.
Fat filtration in large scale catering operations
Cleaning pipes need to be free from cross contamination of meat products.
Frying on hot plates
Care should be taken when frying on hot plates so that vegetarian products do not come into contact with meat products. If space permits, use of separate hot plates is preferable. It's also important to ensure that meat fat does not splatter onto non-meat products.
Grills and barbeques
Care should be taken when grilling or barbequing so that vegetarian products do not come into contact with meat products. If possible, use a separate grill or barbeque. If that's not possible then ensure there are distinctive sides to the grill/barbeque for vegetarian products and ensure that meat fat cannot splatter onto non-meat products.
Ensure separate woks are used for frying. It is not sufficient to wipe out the wok after stir-frying prawns for example. Separate woks should be used for non-meat products.
Separate cooking utensils should be used for cooking non-meat products. Make sure that you have different basting spoons/tongs/draining spoons/fish slices for meat-free products. Colour coding utensil handles is a good way of ensuring that they don't get mixed up.
Industry guidelines already exist for the use of separate boards to prepare separate ingredients.
Separate serving utensils should be used for non-meat products e.g. a separate spoon/tong is needed for serving roast potatoes cooked in vegetable oil. Colour coding the handles in green is a good way of remembering to use the correct utensil.
Manage your buffet: other guests might accidentally mix up serving utensils, even if they were correctly put out at the start of a service. Keep checking your buffet to make sure that it’s as welcoming to all guests, including vegetarians, during and at the end of service as well as at the start.
Separate serving plates should be used, for example, a tray of cut sandwiches should not contain meat/fish sandwiches and non-meat sandwiches.
Food service disposable gloves
When using gloves to pick up food, gloves should always been changed when moving from meat/fish to non-meat products.