Handling Ready-To-Eat Foods

Handling of Ready-To-Eat-Fppds

(relates to inspection form #11)

Before we can review the ways to handle a ready-to-eat food item, we must know exactly what is a ready-to-eat food item. A Ready-To-Eat food item is any food which does not need cooking or has already been cooked. For example, raw ground meat is not ready to eat because it still needs cooking, although a cooked ground meat patty is ready to eat.

Below Are Some Examples of Differences:
Not Ready-To-Eat Ready-To-Eat
Donut Dough Glazed Doughnut
Uncooked, Raw Hamburger Meat Cooked Hamburger Patty
Uncooked Pasta Lettuce
  Almost all Salad Bar Items

More ready to eat foods! (Raw veggies)


There are three ways a ready-to-eat food may be handled. Start by washing your hands thoroughly and then you may use:

     1.) gloves
     2.) clean utensil or barrier such as deli tissue or waxed paper
     3.) bare hand contact (plus use of two control measures and proper documentation)

The rules are stricter if you are serving a high risk population. A high risk population is a group of people whose immune systems may be weak and thus more susceptible to food-borne illness. This would include people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. In these establishments you may not have bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food. You must use gloves or a clean utensil. If you are not serving a high risk population, and are using the bare hand method, there are additional control methods to insure the safety of the consumer. They include:

- Documentation that the employee has received training in proper hand-washing procedures and food handling (i.e. food handler's card).

- Documentation at the establishment that two or more of the following control measures are used:

Double hand washing
Nail brushes (must be kept clean)
Hand sanitizer after washing
Incentive programs (rules for sick employees)
Other control measures approved by the Health Department

In other words, after washing your hands properly, two of the above control measures must also be in place, such as using a nail brush while hand-washing, and then using hand sanitizer. Be sure to find out the policy on handling ready–to–eat foods at your place of employment.

201 North Texas Avenue
Bryan, Texas 77803