Hosting your own Halloween party? Even ghosts and ghouls should follow simple food safe cooking rules for groups.
A popular way to celebrate holidays or any party occasion is to cook a lot of food and invite friends and family. However, this type of food service – where foods are left out for long periods – leaves the door open for uninvited guests – bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Festive times for giving and sharing should not include sharing foodborne illness.
Halloween Party Food Safety Tips
Hosting a Halloween party for friends and family? A #Halloween party can be a lot of fun, but don’t let food illness ruin the memorable occasion. Follow these simple food safety tips:
- Unpasteurized juice or cider. Beware spooky cider! Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
- Raw dough or cake. No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contain uncooked eggs.
- Keep Perishable foods refrigerated. “Scare” bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
- Bacteria-free apples. Bobbing for apples is a classic Halloween game, but dirty apples can present a significant food safety risk. Reduce the number of bacteria that might be present by thoroughly rinsing apples under water and using a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
- Use the 2-hour rule. Bacteria will creep up on you if you let foods sit out too long. Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).
- Learn about foodborne pathogens, cross contamination, hot and cold food holding, personal hygiene and how to prevent foodborne illnesses.
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Cooking for Groups
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.
Bacteria 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.
Additional Resources – Cooking for Groups Food Safety
- Cooking for Groups FSIS Image Library – Brochure graphics are offered here in a high resolution format (EPS) and low resolution format (JPG). Most are available in color or black and white (B/W).
- 7 Food Safety Steps for Successful Community Meals | PDF
- Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer’s Guide to Food Safety (USDA)
Prepare and serve food safely for large groups such as family reunions, church dinners, and community gatherings.
- “No-Show” Guests Jeopardize Food (USDA)
If a meal must be delayed or cancelled, food must be handled “just right” to remain safe.
- Holiday or Party Buffets (USDA)
When foods are left out for long periods, you may have uninvited guests — bacteria that cause foodborne illness.