Potluck Food Safety
Potluck Food Safety
No matter the occasion, when friends and family get together, food is often served. It's fun to share your favorite dishes, but it's important to make sure that your food doesn't make anyone sick. The Ohio Department of Health recommends the following tips to make sure the foods at your next potluck are safe for all to enjoy.
One of the most important points to ensuring your food is safe is keeping perishables out of the temperature "danger zone", which is a range of temperatures where bacteria grows fastest in food. The danger zone for perishable foods is between 41° F and 135° F.
Preparing for the Potluck
- Don't prepare food if you or someone in your home is sick. Sharing food is good, but sharing illness is not. If you or a family member is sick, think about waiting until the next potluck to make food.
- When deciding what to bring, consider foods that don't require temperature control such as baked goods or pre-packaged snacks. If you do bring a hot or cold food, you'll need to find a way to keep the hot foods hot and the cold foods cold throughout the event.
- Wash your hands before preparing any foods. Use utensils as much as possible during food preparation to limit contact with hands.
- Make foods that are easy to serve with utensils to limit the need for hands to come in direct contact with the prepared food.
Transporting Your Food
- All foods should be transported in covered containers to prevent contamination.
- Hot foods need to be kept above 135° F. An insulated container should be used to keep the foods hot during transportation.
- Cold foods need to be kept below 41° F. A cooler with ice or gel packs should be used to keep the foods cold during transportation.
Sharing Your Food
- Provide plenty of clean utensils so food can be served without touching it directly.
- Use slow cookers, chafing dishes, or some other type of warmer to keep hot foods above 135° F throughout the event.
- Keep cold foods on ice or some other type of chilled container while being served to keep them below 41° F.
- Leftovers should be put away once the meal has completed. Use a probe thermometer to check hot and cold food temperatures to determine whether they should be put in refrigeration for saving or discarded:
- Hot foods that have been below 135° F for more than two hours should be thrown away.
- Cold foods that have been above 41° F for more than two house should be thrown away.
Click the following links for a printable versions of Potluck Food Safety:
Food Safety & Power Outages
Food Safety & Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out
The following information provided by www.foodsafety.gov provides guidance on which foods can be kept and which foods should be discarded after a power outage at home.
|MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Raw of leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; Soy meat substitutes||Discard|
|Thawing meat or poultry||Discard|
|Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad||Discard|
|Gravy, stuffing, broth||Discard|
|Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef||Discard|
|Pizza - with any topping||Discard|
|Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated"||Discard|
|Canned meats and fish, opened||Discard|
|Casseroles, soups, stews||Discard|
|CHEESES||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roqufort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufachtel, queso||Discard|
|Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano||Safe|
|Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in a can or jar)||Safe|
|DAIRY||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk||Discard|
|Baby formula, opened||Discard|
|EGGS||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products||Discard|
|Custards and puddings, quiche||Discard|
|FRUITS||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Fresh fruits, cut||Discard|
|Fruit juices, opened||Safe|
|Canned fruits, opened||Safe|
|Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates||Safe|
|VEGETABLES||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices||Safe|
|Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged||Discard|
|Vegetables, cooked; tofu||Discard|
|Vegetable juice, opened||Discard|
|Commercial garlic in oil||Discard|
|Casseroles, soups, stews||Discard|
|SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish||Discard if above 50° F > 8 hours|
|Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles||Safe|
|Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces||Safe|
|Fish sauces, oyster sauce||Discard|
|Opened vinegar-based dressings||Safe|
|Opened creamy-based dressings||Discard|
|Spaghetti sauce, opened jar||Discard|
|BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Breads, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas||Safe|
|Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookies dough||Discard|
|Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes||Discard|
|Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette||Discard|
|Breakfast foods - waffles, pancakes, bagels||Safe|
|PIES, PASTRY||Above 40° F > 2 Hours|
|Pastries, cream filled||Discard|
|Pies: custard, cheese-filled or chiffon; quiche||Discard|
|MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD||Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated||Thawed. Held above 40° for over 2 hours|
|Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meats||Refreeze||Discard|
|Poultry and ground poultry||Refreeze||Discard|
|Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)||Refreeze||Discard|
|Casseroles, stews, soups||Refreeze||Discard|
|Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products||Refreeze - Some texture and flavor loss may occur.||Discard|
|DAIRY||Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated||Thawed. Held above 40° for over 2 hours|
|Milk||Refreeze - May lose some texture||Discard|
|Eggs (out of shell) and egg products||Refreeze||Discard|
|Ice cream, frozen yogurt||Discard||Discard|
|Cheese (soft and semi-soft)||Refreeze - May lose some texture||Discard|
|Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses||Refreeze||Discard|
|FRUITS||Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated||Thawed. Held above 40° for over 2 hours|
|Home or commercially packaged||Refreeze - Will change in texture and flavor.||Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.|
|Juices||Refreeze||Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.|
|VEGETABLES||Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated||Thawed. Held above 40° for over 2 hours|
|Home or commercially packaged or blanched||Refreeze - May suffer texture and flavor loss.||Discard after held above 40° for six hours.|
|Juices||Refreeze||Discard after held above 40° for six hours.|
|BREADS, PASTRIES||Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated||Thawed. Held above 40° for over 2 hours|
|Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)||Refreeze||Refreeze|
|Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling||Refreeze||Discard|
|Pie crusts, commercial or homemade bread dough||Refreeze - Some quality loss may occur||Refreeze - Quality loss is considerable|
|OTHER||Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated||Thawed. Held above 40° for over 2 hours|
|Casseroles - pasta, rice based||Refreeze||Discard|
|Flour, cornmeal, nuts||Refreeze||Refreeze|
|Breakfast items - waffles, pancakes, bagels||Refreeze||Refreeze|
|Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods)||Refreeze||Discard|
Click the following links for printable versions of Food Safety & Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out:
Nitrates and Food Safety
Nitrates and Food Safety Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
What are Nitrates/Nitrites?
How can I be exposed to Nitrates?
Who is at risk to Nitrate/Nitrite exposure?
Should pregnant women and infants consume water with nitrate levels above 10 ppm?
Should pregnant women and infants use water with nitrate levels above 10 ppm to make ice, beverages, or baby formula, or use the water to make food such as pasta, rice, noodles, potatoes or soup?
Can water that exceeds 10ppm of nitrates be used to wash dishes, including baby bottles?
Can pregnant women and infants use water that exceeds 10ppm of nitrates to wash fruits and vegetables before they are eaten?
What should a food facility such as a restaurant or grocery store do if their water supply exceeds 10ppm of nitrates?
- Unless the facility has a reverse osmosis, anion exchange or distillation system installed, a food facility should use an approved alternate water source for human consumption, preparation of food, beverages or ice; or
- Post signs advising that pregnant women and infants should not consume the water or food, beverages, or ice made with the water.
Can exposure to Nitrates/Nitrites make me sick?
- The route of exposure (eating or drinking)
- How much you were exposed to (dose).
- How long you were exposed (duration).
- How often you were exposed (frequency).
- General Health, Age, and Lifestyle: Young children, the elderly and people with chronic (on-going) health problems are more at risk to chemical exposure.
Are there any treatment methods available to remove nitrates in water?
Does boiling water remove nitrates?
Will disinfecting the water with chlorine remove nitrates?
How can I reduce my intake of Nitrates/Nitrites?
- Reducing the amount of preserved meats you eat (such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs, etc.).
- If your public water system has a nitrate advisory posted, use an alternate approved source of water for drinking, food preparation or cooking.
- If you drink well water, make sure you are drinking water that is not contaminated with nitrates.
- Infant formula should be made with safe approved alternate water source when the nitrates are higher than 10 ppm.
- Vitamin C will help prevent the nitrates changing to nitrites. Diets high in vitamin C will reduce the risk of methemoglobinemia.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Nitrate/Nitrite Toxicity, September, 2015.
- Toxics A to Z, University of California Press, 1991.
- Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, 2nd edition, Noyes Publications, 1985.
Click the following links for printable versions of Nitrates and Food Safety Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: