FCS8999 Keeping Food Safe: Special Tips for Potluck Parties 1Claudia Peuela and Amarat Simonne2 1. This document is FCS8999, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date March 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu 2. Claudia P euela, nutrition assistant, EFNEP, Family, Youth and Community Sciences Department; and Amarat Simonne, professor, Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim DeanPotluck parties are very popular in the United States because they allow people to share responsibility of cooking and food preparation. While its wonderful to be able to share favorite recipes with friends and to have the opportunity to eat a variety of foods without much cost, potluck meals are also associated with an increased risk of foodborne illness. Why is this? First, the people who prepare meals for potluck parties are not trained food service professionals and may lack food safety knowledge. Second, because of the wide variety of foods served at potluck parties, it can be dicult to keep all the dierent dishes at a safe temperature. Many types of food, such as dishes prepared with meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, cooked rice, and vegetables, need temperature control Such foods should never be kept in the temperature danger zone (40FF) for more than two hours (one hour, if in extreme heatfor instance, on a day when it is 90F). To decrease your risk of foodborne illness, its very important to follow the two-hour rule and refrigerate all such prepared foods within two hours of purchasing or cooking. Continue reading for more potluck food safety tips!Plan Ahead Keep food safety in mind as you plan your potluck dish. If you or your family members are sick with gastroenteritis (a stomach bug or stomach u), do not prepare foods for others. Prepare foods that are easy to serve with utensils. 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.Preparation Properly wash your hands before preparing foods. Whenever you want to taste food, use theTwo Spoon Tasting Method Take a food sample from a container with a clean spoon or utensil, and put it into another spoon for tasting. Photo by: Joel R. Terrell
2 Keep cold foods at 40F or colder. Place dishes in bowls of ice, or use small serving trays and replace them oen. Wash plates and utensils with hot, soapy water to minimize the risk of cross contamination. Teach children and young family members good hygiene practices, such as washing their hands before taking food from the serving table.Storing Leftovers If foods have been safely handled and have not been in the danger zone for more than two hours, the leovers are safe to eat. Divide leover food into smaller portions and put it in clean, shallow, covered containers or resealable bags. Immediately place leovers in the refrigerator (40F or lower) or freezer for rapid cooling. Use cooked leovers within 3 to 4 days.For More Information about Food SafetyFollow all the tips for Shopping, Storage, and Preparing and Cooking in the Keeping Food Safe Series.ReferencesUnited States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Safe Food Handling. Cooking for Groups Accessed January 12, 2011. Use a food thermometer to check food temperatures frequently. Aer the party, discard any food that was le in the danger zone (40FF) for more than two hours (or more than one hour on a very hot day). 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. Aer they are mixed, cold salads must be kept cool (at 40F or lower) at all times.Transporting Keep cold food (such as cold salads with ingredients such as ham, chicken, tuna, and potatoes) at 40F or below. Use a cooler with ice or gel packs. Keep hot foods (such as stews and chili) at 140F 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. Do not transport food and animals in the same vehicle.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.Reheating Leftovers Reheat leovers to 165F. Serve food onto clean, small plates and do not rell 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 140F or warmer. Use slow cookers and warming trays.