Food Safety Issues/Chafers


Hi Carl!    i work at resturaunt, in witch we participate in selling food at a monthly town event in a concession stand. we have chafers with polycarbonate clear dome covers, so that our customers may see the food without sacraficing safe serving temps.  Our customers still cant see through the covers due to condensation, thus having us to constantly opening and closing the covers for their veiw. is their away to reduce the condensation?  my thought is to drill vent holes on the covers, but in doing so, would that cause a dramatic drop in safe temps?  also it as been said that serving utensils must be kept it their respective chafers for food saftey. but in doing so the covers on our chafers is left partially opened, becuase utensils are protruding out of the chafers.  Is it safe to place serving utensils in an inset of water with a sanitzing solution?  or maybe another small chafer with boiling water to place the utensils after each use of the serving utensils?

I'll break down my answers to your questions one by one.
~thus having us to constantly opening and closing the covers for their veiw. is their away to reduce the condensation?
* vent holes won't work well unless they are large and large vent holes will allow the heat to escape which will cause a drop in temperature as you guessed. Small vent holes may help a little with the condensation issue.
~serving utensils must be kept it their respective chafers for food safety
*this is the best way to do it but you can cut "U" shaped openings in the covers to accommodate the serving utensils. A dremel tool (rotating bit) should be a good way to accomplish this. It is not safe to put the utensils in a sanitizing solution between uses. The rule is wash/rinse/sanitize/air dry. You can't use a towel to dry them and your customers won't like you using "wet" serving utensils to serve their food. The sanitizer dilution won't be maintained anyway since it will get dirty very fast from food residue.Same issue with boiling water.

There really is not an alternative to what you are doing that's why most vendors use stainless covers and the customer sees the food when you open the cover. I would try making the "u" shaped openings in the plastic covers to accommodate the serving spoons and maybe drilling a few small holes in the covers to help with the condensation. Wish I had a better solution for you! Great question.  

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Carl LaFrate


I can answer food safety questions relative to food processing, retail food and food salvage after a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, flood, ammonia leak or fire. Questions related to HACCP, Regulatory, GFSI, SQF, BRC, liability issues, contamination events, pest infestation, pest control methodology,food safety defense, pathogen prevention such as L. Monocytogenes control in food processing and retail, any subject related to food safety including at home issues.


30 years experience as a food safety consultant working for the top food processors, food retailers and insurance companies that write liability policies related to food processing, storage and distribution. My firm employees 6 full time food safety auditors. I work for top law firms throughout the USA and am a staff consultant for Douglas Peterson and Associates, one of the top forensic engineering firms in the world. I also work with Risk Solutions International, a global leader in risk management.

New York State Association for Food Protection, past president, executive board Central Atlantic States Association of Food and Drug Officials

Progressive Grocer Magazine Smart Money Magazine Private Label Buyer Magazine Supermarket News Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine Food Service Director Magazine NYS Association for Food Protection Annual Report NYS Association for Food Protection Newsletter

Syracuse University, Microbiology/Biology NYS College of Environmental Sciences, Plant and Environmental Biology Cornell University, Food and Dairy Processing

Awards and Honors
Wm. Hickey Award (2006), NYS Association for Food Protection, for contributions in the field of food safety and sanitation New York State Integrated Pest Management Award (2007), NYS Assoc. for Food Protection, for contributions in the filed of integrated pest management.

Past/Present Clients
Pillsbury, Agri-Mark, Associated Grocers, Beatrice Foods, Cargill, Southern Cold Storage, Quaker, Ben & Jerry’s, Delverde Pasta (Italy), New York Bakery, Cabot Cheese, Hazelwood Farms, General Mills, Price Chopper Supermarkets, P&C Supermarkets, Great American Supermarkets, Tops Markets, Big M Supermarkets, Big Bear Supermarkets, Frito-Lay Distribution Centers, IBP, Excell, Eckerd Drugs, Rite Aid Drug Stores, Fay’s Drugs, Carl’s Drugs, AWI Wholesale Food Distribution, McLane Food Distributors, Golub Food Distribution, many supermarket chains (many include large scale specialty food service operations), Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Darden Foods (Red Lobster, Olive Garden), LSG Skychefs (Germany, US), Glen Mills Schools, Cornell University, Crider Poultry, Caesar’s Palace, The Oneida Indian Nation, Taylor Meat Packing, UCB Packaging Films

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