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7 Steps for Safe Community Meals Cheat Sheet by

food     safety     meals

Introd­uction

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 food borne 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 ensure 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”

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.

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