Six Ways to Keep Potlucks Safe
by Angelina Wood

What do we need to know to make our church meals safe? The following safety tips will assist you and your church to fellowship with food in a safe way:

1. Plan ahead – make sure you have what you need to keep food safe before you serve the meal.

Do you have freezers, refrigerators, or portable coolers to keep cold foods cold?

Do you have a place for people to wash hands?

2 Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for a least 20 seconds:

Before you prepare food.

When you move from one kind of food (i.e. salad) to another (i.e. casserole).

After you go to the bathroom.

After you diaper a child.

After you care for a pet.

After you cough, sneeze, or touch your face.

After you shake hands.

After you handle chemicals such as cleaning supplies, dish detergent, or bleach.

3 Don’t touch food with anything that isn’t clean.

Use clean serving utensils for each dish served.

Keep counters and cutting boards cleaned and sanitized.

Refrigerate foods within two hours of preparation.

4 Keep hot foods hot.

Food that needs to be cooked should be completely cooked.

Sauces, soups, and gravies should be brought to a boil.

If it’s been stored in the refrigerator, it should be reheated to at least 165°.

Use ovens, warming trays or slow cookers to keep hot foods above 140° when served.

Buy a food thermometer and use it!

5 Keep cold foods cold

Cold foods should be stored at 40° F, or cooler.

Use coolers and insulated containers to transport food.

Store cold foods in the refrigerator – don’t leave them on the countertop!

Serve cold foods on ice and add more ice as needed.

6 When in doubt, throw it out!

Foods that have been left out for two hours or more should be tossed.

Leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen immediately in sealed containers.

Clean up the refrigerator weekly from foods that have been left over a few days.