Potlucks, Tailgates, and Parties are fun, but food safety must always be a priority! Use these simple steps to keep food safe for all!
- Keep food safety in mind as you plan your potluck dish.
- When possible, bring items that do not require temperature control, such as whole fresh fruits, nuts, dried fruits, and certain types of baked goods.
- If you bring hot or cold foods, make sure that you have a way to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Properly wash your hands before preparing food.
- Minimize the handling of foods with bare hands. Instead, use utensils, especially when mixing cold salads that contain cooked ingredients, such as potato, ham, chicken, or pasta salads.
- For cold-mixed dishes, allow ingredients to cool before mixing them together.
- After they are mixed, cold salads must be kept cool (at 40°F or lower) at all times.
- Keep cold food (such as cold salads with ingredients such as ham, chicken, tuna, and potatoes) at 40°F or below. Use a cooler with ice or gel packs.
- Keep hot foods (such as stews and chili) at 140°F or above. Use an insulated container, such as a crock pot wrapped in paper bags, during travel.
- Wrap casserole dishes with aluminum foil. Pack just before leaving home and open the container right before serving.
- Assign one person to be in charge of checking the food to ensure it is safe to eat.
- Keep surfaces clean and use clean dishes and utensils to serve.
- Provide plenty of utensils for each item so that people can avoid touching the food.
- Keep it Covered – Keep in mind that pests are attracted to food. Have a way to keep your food covered at the tailgate party – saran wrap, foil, or a lid.
- Hot Foods Hot, Cold Foods Cold – Using a cooler will be your best friend! Ice is your friend when keeping cold foods cold; cover your dish with several inches of ice. As for your hot foods, if you can’t keep them warm on the way to the tailgate, plan to keep them chilled on the way. Reheat to 165*F upon arrival.
- 2-Hour Rule – Don’t let perishable foods sit out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures rise above 90*F). Toss any food left out for longer.
Reheat leftovers to 165°F.
Serve food onto clean, small plates and do not refill them; use new clean plates.
Use long-handled utensils so that handles do not fall into the food.
Separate raw foods from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
Keep hot foods at 140°F or warmer. Use slow cookers and warming trays. (Note: do not use this equipment to reheat the food; reheat food to 165 F on the stovetop, microwave, or oven and then place in a slow cooker or warming tray)
Keep cold foods at 40°F or colder. Place dishes in bowls of ice, or use small serving trays and replace them often.
Wash plates and utensils with hot, soapy water to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.
Use a food thermometer to check food temperatures frequently. After the party, discard any food that was left in the danger zone (40°F–140°F) for more than two hours (or more than one hour on a very hot day).
If foods have been safely handled and have not been in the danger zone for more than two hours, the leftovers are safe to eat.
Divide leftover food into smaller portions and put it in clean, shallow, covered containers or resealable bags.
Immediately place leftovers in the refrigerator (40°F or lower) or freezer for rapid cooling.
Use cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Safe Food Handling. Cooking for Groups. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Cooking_for_Groups.pdf