USDA Food Safety Guidelines for Potluck Events

USDA Provides Easy-to-Follow Steps for Safe Potluck Prep and Serve

Preparing & storing your potluck foods to prevent foodborne illness

We love our potlucks at Plascon—crock pots line up, veggie trays abound, sweets and treats galore, and every kind of salad you can think of!  But how do you know if the dish you brought to pass is safe to eat? Thanks to our friends at the USDA, there’s some easy safety steps to consider when having your next community potluck. (Source:


7 Food Safety Steps for Successful Community Meals

Whether preparing food for a family reunion or a community gathering, people who are great cooks at home don't necessarily know how to safely prepare and store large quantities of food for large groups. Food that is mishandled can cause foodborne illness. However, by following some simple steps, volunteer cooks can make the event safe and successful!

  1. Plan Ahead — Make sure the location meets your needs.
    • Be sure you have enough oven, stovetop, refrigerator, freezer, and work space.
    • Find out if there's a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning.
  2. Store & Prepare Food Safely
    • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or preparing; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
    • Find separate preparation areas in the work space for raw and cooked food.
    • Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food.
    • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and work surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water.
    • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
  3. Cook Food to Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures — It's the only way to tell if harmful bacteria are destroyed!
    • Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other food. Check temperature in several places to be sure food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
    • Never partially cook food for finishing later because you increase the risk of bacterial growth.
  4. Transport Food Safely — Keep hot food HOT. Keep cold food COLD.
    • Keep hot food at or above 140 °F. Wrap well and place in an insulated container.
    • Keep cold food at or below 40 °F. Place in a cooler with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs.
  5. Need to Reheat? Food must be hot and steamy for serving. Just "warmed up" is not good enough.
    • Use the stove, oven, or microwave to reheat food to 165 °F. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil.
  6. Keep Food Out of the "Danger Zone" (40-140 °F).
    • Keep hot food hot - at or above 140 °F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
    • Keep cold food cold — at or below 40 °F. Place food in containers on ice.
  7. When In Doubt, Throw it Out!
    • Discard food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
    • Place leftovers in shallow containers. Refrigerate or freeze immediately.
  8. Be Food Safe! Prepare with Care
    • CLEAN. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces often.
    • SEPARATE. Don't cross-contaminate.
    • COOK. Use a food thermometer.
    • CHILL. Chill food promptly.
For more food safety information, "Ask Karen" at or call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

Plascon is BRC "AA" Certified!

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 the highest certification for a scheduled BRC audit of “AA” !

To learn more about Plascon's flexible packaging options, and how our products can help provide the safest, and most hygienic food packaging for your food service needs.

Learn more about our packaging solutions


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