Food is a critical cog in the wheel that is human survival. In remote environments with limited access to medical services and workers performing physically demanding tasks, it is more vital to ensure that food is prepared to the highest of standards.
So, to ensure the maintenance of the best culinary standards, food safety certification is typically recommended.
What are offshore catering companies?
Offshore catering companies are those that serve remote asset types like accommodation barges, drill ships, diving support vessels, pipe-lay vessels, semi-submersible vessels, walk-to-work vessels, and drilling units.
What is food safety certification?
Food safety revolves around activities that ensure the proper storage, preparation and handling of food to prevent food-borne illnesses.
For example, separation of raw and cooked foods, cooking food or storing food at the right temperature, or using safe water for food preparation.
Food safety certification involves a series of activities performed via a third party to ensure that products, processes or systems in a food supply chain meet acceptable standards.
These activities are founded on iterative testing, inspections and audits. Essentially, they give organisations the confidence that equipment and ingredients being used by a caterer meet international industry standards.
Food safety certificates are typically awarded to food handlers like chefs, servers, and dishwashers, after the completion of a food safety training course.
Such a training course usually exhaustively covers touch points like:
- Food allergies, food intolerance and cross-contamination management.
- Cleaning and sanitising all preparation surfaces, equipment, and utensils.
- Maintenance of the highest standards of personal hygiene.
- Legal obligations with regards to food handling.
- Optimal temperatures to correctly store, prepare and cook food correctly with regards to environment and equipment.
- How food poisoning may occur, and how to keep guests safe from harmful bacteria.
Why is it needed?
Food safety certification assures prospective offshore clients that their catering business meets the requirements of internationally recognised best food practices.
Furthermore, certification by an objective signifies good governance and corporate responsibility, which can be invaluable for any serious business dealing.
Overall, food safety certification shows that a catering organisation’s food processes and ingredients consistently comply with:
- Fitness for use
- Interchangeability characteristics defined by international baseline standards
- Any specifications supplementary to international food standards.
What is checked during offshore catering inspection?
Offshore catering inspections are typically performed according to areas and equipment, for example:
- Refrigerators and Freezers
- If general housekeeping rules are followed.
- Cleanliness of slats and shelves.
- Stability of materials.
- If food is properly stored on shelves/slats,
- If leftovers are older than 24 hours.
- Kitchen/Food Preparation Area
- If utensils are properly stored clean & dry.
- If ranges, hoods, and filters are clean or free of grease.
- Fire extinguisher safety.
- Fire blanket functionality.
- If the meat slicer is clean.
- If exhaust vents are clear of dust.
- If trash is regularly removed.
- If floors are free of slip and trip hazards.
- Cleaning staff
- If cleaning personnel are free of respiratory signs
- If staff maintain clean uniforms.
- If staff use gloves and hats.
- Galley Area
- If tables and chairs are clean.
- If the coffee mess is clean and stocked.
- If ice and drink machines are safe.
- Dry Stores Area
- Proper storage on pallets or shelves.
- If containers, bags, and boxes are properly sealed.
- Offshore shipping and transportation
- Quality and certification of offshore reefer containers deployed
How to get food safety certification?
There are multiple types of food safety certification, mainly at the state level and national levels.
In essence, requirements for food safety certification typically vary from region to region, but share the same principles.
Most certification bodies dictate the completion of a course in food safety from a recognised institute, college or university. Actually, some institutions offer their food certification courses entirely online.
After completing course modules and passing the exams, students are presented with food safety or professional food manager certification. In most instances, certification requires renewal every two to three years.
For offshore catering companies seeking food safety certificates, the main option is to engage accredited international certification bodies licensed to perform ISO 22000:2005 testing and Safe Food Warranty certificate issuance.
Additionally, Caterers Offshore Trade Association (COTA) represents six companies which supply catering and auxiliary services to offshore oil and gas installations in the North Sea. These are:
Offshore catering companies in Nort Sea require to meet stringent health and safety requirements. COTA companies provide certifications that ensure that these requirements are exceeded.
Can you get a food safety certificate online?
Online food safety certification options are available that allow participants to complete courses at their own pace.
However, online courses are typically restricted to jurisdiction and region.
For example, this Canadian Food Handler Certification Course may not be valid in the United States.
All things considered, food is a major aspect of both human productivity and well-being. In remote locations, the stakes are raised higher as travelling by sea in foreign locales dictates the utmost consideration for food safety, flavour and hygiene.
As such, any reputable offshore catering company must have up-to-date food safety certification to prevent food-borne illnesses or insurance liability that could stem from food negligence or mismanagement.
A graduate (Business) from KDU, Jason Tan, is the current Business Director (Sales) for MGS Icestorm and has been associated with the company for the past 10 years.
With over 13 years in the shipping industry, he has had a significant contribution to Malaysia’s oil and gas industry in the engine and boat supply sector.
His expertise includes managing offshore catering business, offshore reefer containers, AI technology, offshore gas tanks, A60 pressurized cabins, etc. His contributions have helped establish MGS, in partnership (joint venture) with Thermo King and Honeywell to produce state of art Offshore Reefer Container products.