It’s graduation season! Graduation parties are an exciting time to celebrate by cooking all kinds of food and inviting friends and family during a warm summer day or evening.
But, don’t forget to include food safety as another gift that graduates will appreciate on their big day. Cooking for groups – where foods are left out for long periods – leaves the door open for uninvited guests – bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
When preparing for your special event, remember that bacteria can make you sick. This problem is more serious than many people realize. In fact, 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning every year.
- Learn about foodborne pathogens, cross contamination, hot and cold food holding, personal hygiene and how to prevent foodborne illnesses.
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Clean – Separate – Cook – Chill
By following four simple steps, you can protect your families and friends and keep your food safe.
- Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate—Separate raw meats from other foods.
- Cook—Cook to the right temperature.
- Chill—Refrigerate food promptly.
The Food Safety Danger Zone
Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F. To keep food out of this “Danger Zone,” keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Keep food cold in the refrigerator, in coolers, or on the serving line on ice. Keep hot food in the oven, in heated chafing dishes, or in preheated steam tables, warming trays and/or slow cookers. Never leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the “Danger Zone” over 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F.
USDA Brochure – Cooking for Groups
The “Cooking for Groups” brochure helps volunteers prepare and serve food safely for large groups such as family reunions, church dinners, and community gatherings. This food may be prepared at the volunteer’s home and brought to the event, or prepared and served at the gathering.
The information provided in this publication was developed as a guide for consumers who are preparing food for large groups. For additional information, and to ensure that all state regulations or recommendations for food preparation and service are followed, please contact your local or state health department.
- English Booklet, Full Color (PDF, 880kb)