It’s that time of year again when we get together frequently with others for potlucks and barbecues to celebrate everything from birthdays and weddings to graduations and holidays. Potlucks are a great way to gather and socialize with friends, family and co-workers, but without proper food handling, they can also, unfortunately, result in people getting sick. Below are a few easy tips to make sure you keep your friends and families safe while still enjoying the festivities!
Bringing & Serving Potluck Food
- If potable water is not available where the event will be hosted, bring along a clean water source that will be dedicated to food prep and cleaning. And don’t forget to bring soap and paper towels!
- Before preparing, serving or eating food, wash your hands and encourage others to do so. Supply disposable hand sanitizing wipes if a sink is not available.
- Cold foods should be kept at 40°F or lower; use an ice-filled cooler to transfer and serve things such as salads, dips, relish platters and desserts.
- Hot foods should be kept at 140°F or hotter; transfer and serve them using an insulated container, slow cooker, chafing dish or roaster oven.
- Bring clean serving utensils and keep utensils separate for each dish to lower the risk of cross-contamination.
Keeping Leftovers Safe
No one likes to see food being wasted, so plan ahead and monitor potluck and BBQ food items to keep them safe.
- Note the time that perishable foods are in the ‘Temperature Danger Zone’–between 40F -140F–and remember the 2 Hour Rule: If prepared foods are in the ‘danger zone’ for more than 2 hours, they should be discarded! And in hot weather (above 90F), perishable foods should be eaten, refrigerated or discarded within 1 hour.
- If perishable foods are in the ‘danger zone’ for less than 2 hours (or 1 hour if above 90F), pack them in food storage bags or shallow containers, and refrigerate or keep cold in a cooler filled with ice until you get home.
- Reheat cooked leftovers to 165°F before eating.
- Discard all leftovers within 3-4 days.
Here’s wishing you a Happy 4th of July celebration and enjoying lots of delicious (and safe) meals with family and friends! Explore more info related to summer food safety–from weddings to camping trips–on the Foodsafety.gov blog.