October 18, 2018

Cooking for a Group this Holiday Season? Get USDA Advice.

Cooking.For.GroupsIf you are cooking for a large group this holiday season, the USDA has some great advice to help you keep the food safe to eat. The pamphlet “Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer’s Guide to Food Safety” has lots of tips about safe food handling.

The pamphlet has information about how bacteria get in food, what to do in case of suspected foodborne illness, how to plan, shop, store, prepare, cook, and serve food properly, and helpful charts. Many outbreaks are caused when volunteers at churches and other venues prepare food for a crowd, but don’t know about food safety.

The guide is for consumer use only. State food codes and the FDA regulate commercial enterprises such as restaurants and institutional food settings.

The pamphlet has information about the four key steps in safe food preparation, including the classic “clean, separate, cook, and chill.” It also reminds those who plan and purchase food for events to make sure they have the right equipment, a cold storage area, a way to hold hot food safely, and food thermometers to check for safe temperatures.

Preventing cross-contamination, making sure food handlers wash their hands, cooking the food to a safe internal temperature, safe holding and serving, and prompt storage of leftovers are some of the key points in the brochure. Charts are an easy way to access the safe final temperature of foods. Tips on transporting and reheating food are also offered.

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