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Safe Tips for Holiday Office Potlucks

Posted By Brett Kneitel

Office Holiday Parties 101

A guide to keep your foods safe during the holiday season

holiday office potluck

'Tis the Season!  The Holiday Season is upon us, and many of us have some sort of office holiday potluck meal for all to enjoy.  We ran a blog a few months back on this subject, but this is timely information to revisit and remind us all how to avoid potential food safety blunders that can lead to food borne illness. 

As we all gather to enjoy a few laughs and reflect on the year that was and celebrate the season, here are a few tips to ensure against food poisoning at your Holiday Party, and avoid any unwanted trips to the emergency room. Most of these tips should be common sense, but none of us pay any attention to the specifics of keeping everyone safe. The FDA suggests:

Keep Hot Food Hot

Seems reasonable right? If the dish you’re bringing to the holiday party is a “hot” dish, the FDA recommends serving that food as soon as it is ready to eat. Now, we all know that virtually nobody is cooking their dish on site. Most of us will make whatever it is the day or night before, and then bring it into the office the next day. But how do keep that food warm enough, or heat it up when you’re at the office? Make sure to chill the item the night before, transfer in a cooler or insulated bag with ice for transport, and then heat up at the office either in the microwave (make sure to use a microwave safe dish), stove top, or oven. Note, do NOT use a Crock Pot to reheat the food. The use of a thermometer will tell you if the food is above 165 degrees, therefore safe to serve.

Keep Cold Food Cold

Well that makes sense. It really is common sense, but all cold food items should be kept in the refrigerator until such time the food will be served, keeping the food below 40 degrees and thus safe to serve. Just like with the hot food, you can transport cold food from home with the use of a cooler or insulated bag that will help with keeping the food at the appropriate temperature for serving.

Use Several Small Plates

When I read that, I couldn’t believe I had not thought of that before. Using the small plates, rather than a large platter, will allow you to keep the foods at the proper temperature, longer. Once the party-goers are ready to eat, then those items can come out of the fridge or can be heated up, and thus ready to serve, safely.

Keep Track of Time

Yet another thing I never even considered. The danger zone for food to grow bacteria is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. If food is left out at that temperature for 2 hours or more, bacteria can start growing in there and I’m pretty sure nobody wants their deviled eggs mixed with a cornucopia of bacteria. That’s not exactly the most fun way to spend a holiday. So, keep track of how long cold dishes are out of the refrigerator, and the internal  temperature of the hot foods.

Now, these are just tips I read about when reading what the FDA had to say on the subject. Holiday parties are meant to be fun. Celebrate the holiday. Celebrate the year and give levity and some fun to the employees to just enjoy themselves for a few hours. What nobody wants is someone getting sick because some guidelines just weren’t followed.

Stay Safe & Enjoy the Season!


 

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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is one of the few certification programs that assures packaging suppliers are compliant to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Recognized worldwide, this initiative is important in that it requires companies to achieve and maintain a standard of excellence by adhering to the highest standards put forth by the food-manufacturing industry with regards to Food & Product Safety. For 2018, we again achieved the highest certification for a scheduled BRC audit of “AA” !

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Topics: food safety, cook chill, cook chill packaging, BRC Certified, cook chill bags