Food Safety for Parties and Events
When any event is held on your premises, whether or not you sponsor it, food safety is one of the things for which you could be held liable. The USDA has several helpful guides for proper handling of food for large groups. It would be a good idea to share them with your staff and volunteers to make sure everyone is aware of food safety best practices.
Here are some of the important things to learn about food safety:
Wash those hands! Always wash hands before and after handling food.
Know the enemy. Learn the most common types of foodborne bacteria and how to combat them.
Turn up the heat! Learn the safe minimum internal cooking temperatures for various types of meats. When reheating any hot food, make sure it reaches 165°F. Hold hot foods in the oven at between 200°F and 250°F.
Keep it cool. Your refrigerator temperature should be 40°F or below and your freezer should be set at 0°F or below. Cold foods should be refrigerated until it’s time to serve them.
Follow the two-hour rule. Food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if it’s 90°F or above). Throw away any food that’s been left out too long
Ditch the dirty dishes. Don’t add more food to a platter that’s empty or partially empty. Use a fresh platter to serve fresh food.
If everyone is alert to the safety rules in the USDA guides, it will greatly reduce the chances of a foodborne illness ruining your event.
Helping to Beat the Heat
While it’s great to get out and enjoy the summer, it’s also important to keep everyone safe from overheating. Heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be prevented if you take the right precautions.
Make drinking water and cups freely available. If you’re serving alcohol, consider putting up signs recommending that people drink one cup of water for every two alcoholic drinks they have.
Your Biggest Fans
Some fans here and there can make a big difference in people’s comfort levels outdoors, especially in the shade.
A misting fan, hose or tent can be a nice way to relieve the heat, especially for all-day events. These are available for sale or rental, depending on how often you think you might need one.
Keep a Lookout
Know the signs of heat-related illness. If someone is experiencing dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, excessive sweating, fatigue or weakness, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, difficulty seeing or heart palpitations, it could be a sign of heat stroke. Get them to someplace cool, offer them water to hydrate, and call for medical attention if necessary.