Food is a common part of many church activities, and a church kitchen can be a good place for creating memories and building relationships. However, food handling comes with inherent risks. In Apostolic Faith churches with kitchens, policies must be maintained which protect the health and wellness of those who use the area and those who are served from it.
Pastors may find it helpful to designate one person as the church’s kitchen coordinator. That person could be responsible for ensuring that individuals who use the kitchen are familiar with and follow the food handling practices described in these Procedure Guidelines.
Those who work in our church kitchens should remember that safety must come first when making work decisions regarding participation in food preparation, serving, or clean-up after an event.
- Authorization to use the church kitchen should be obtained on a case-by-case basis from the pastor or church kitchen coordinator.
- Kitchen coordinators and key staff members should have current food handling certification as required by the state. (This generally involves going through a brief online course and taking a test.)
- All kitchen workers should know how to use the appliances properly.
- Entrances to the kitchen area should be kept locked except when the kitchen is in use.
- Children of primary-school age and younger should be restricted from access to the kitchen unless accompanied by a responsible adult and closely monitored.
- Individuals who have a contagious illness should not work in the church kitchen until they are recovered.
Equipment and Maintenance
All church kitchen equipment should be maintained in a manner to minimize risk and best ensure safe operation for those who use the kitchen. Smoke alarms, fire alarms, and first aid kits should be located in proximity to the kitchen (guidelines regarding this are included in the Safety and Security Manual provided to pastors and building maintenance personnel).
We recommend that a state food handlers booklet be placed in each church kitchen, as guidelines vary from state to state.
Food Preparation Guidelines
All state regulations regarding food preparation and serving must be followed by those who use our church kitchens. These regulations will include (but not be limited to) the following guidelines:
- Never thaw foods by allowing them to sit at room temperature. Use one of the following methods:
- Refrigerator: The refrigerator allows slow, safe thawing. (Place thawing meat and poultry into a container to prevent juices from dripping onto other food.)
- Cold Water: Place food in an airtight plastic bag and submerge in cold tap water. Change the water every thirty minutes. Cook food immediately after thawing.
- Microwave: Follow instructions in your microwave book for correct thawing procedure. Use foods immediately after microwave thawing.
- Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before use. Thick-skinned produce may be scrubbed with a brush. Do not use soap.
- Do not cross-contaminate.
- Use different cutting boards for raw meats, vegetables, and cooked food.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food.
- After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
- Do not use recipes in which eggs remain raw or are only partially cooked. Eggs should be prepared immediately after breaking. When possible, substitute pasteurized eggs for raw eggs in cooked dishes.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to the proper temperature.
- Cooked foods - minimum temperature of 135º F.
- Roasted meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb) - minimum temperature of 145º F.
- Ground meat - minimum temperature of 160º F.
- Poultry - minimum temperature of 165º F.
- Leftovers – reheat to a minimum temperature of 165º F.
- Never partially cook food for finishing later as this increases the risk of bacterial growth on the food.
- Prepare foods as close to serving time as possible. Preparing food twelve or more hours before service increases the risk of temperature abuse.
Food Storage Guidelines
- Refrigerated foods should be held at or below 40º F. Frozen foods should be held at or below Oº F.
- Only use foods before the “use by” date.
- Store ready-to-eat food such as bread, salad, or cake on the highest shelves in the refrigerator. Store raw meats and poultry on the lowest shelves.
- Protect food products from contamination by keeping them covered or packaged until being served.
Food Handling and Serving Guidelines
- Use disposable gloves when handling or serving ready-to-eat foods.
- If food must be transported from one location to another, keep it well covered and provide adequate temperature controls.
- Serve foods in small containers, using a clean container to refill supplies from the oven, saucepan, or refrigerator.
- When serving, hot food should be held at 140°F or above and cold food should be held at 40°F or below.
- Perishable food on a buffet should never be left in the temperature danger zone (between 40°F and 140°F) for more than two hours. This includes both hot food and cold food. If food has been in this zone for more than two hours (or 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F) it should be discarded.
- Chill cooked food rapidly, using shallow, pre-chilled pans.
- Always wash hands with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds before beginning food preparation, after handling food, when changing from one task to another (e.g., cutting meat to cutting bread), and after using the restroom.
- Use paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Cloths should be laundered in the hottest washing machine cycle.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize any piece of equipment and any place where food is prepared, both before and after each use.
- Chlorine bleach is the easiest and most effective chemical sanitizer (make sure that it is food grade).
- For spray bottles, make a solution of one teaspoon unscented liquid chlorine bleach per quart of cool water. Spray surfaces such as countertops and cutting boards with this solution and allow to air dry. If you choose to dry surfaces with a towel, allow the bleach spray to remain on the surface for at least thirty seconds.
- For buckets or sinks, mix one tablespoon unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of warm water. Allow pots, pans and utensils to soak in the diluted bleach solution for two minutes. Drain, and allow to air dry. Do not add more bleach than is recommended, and be sure to start off with a surface that has been washed and rinsed. Diluted chlorine bleach solution can be stored in a closed container such as a spray bottle for up to one week.
- Use durable, easily cleanable, insect and rodent-proof containers that do not leak or absorb liquids for garbage accumulation. Waste containers must be emptied immediately after each event.