Food Safety During Gatherings

For Immediate Release

May 27, 2016; 10:30am

DPHSS Release No. 2016-046

Food Safety during Gatherings

The Division of Environmental Health (DEH) of the Department of Public Health and Social Services would like to encourage the public to keep food safety in mind while at home, during parties, and other events amongst friends, families, and other guests.  The following food safety steps should keep foodborne illness from ruining the gathering and the health of everyone:

1.  CLEAN food preparation area.

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling any food

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and other surfaces with hot, soapy water after preparing each food

  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water

2.  SEPARATE foods so not to give germs the opportunity to spread from one food to another.

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and poultry, and fresh produce, or wash and clean after each use

  • Keep seafood, roasts, hams, and other meats and their juices separate from other side dishes during preparation

3.  COOK food to a high enough internal temperature to kill germs; measure temperature using a food thermometer.

  • Cook to 165°F for poultry, ground meat, and leftovers

  • Cook to 145°F for beef, veal, pork, lamb, and fin fish

  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating

  • Be sure that eggs and products containing eggs are thoroughly cooked

4.  KEEP HOT FOOD HOT AND COLD FOOD COLD so harmful bacteria cannot grow rapidly.

  • Room temperature, even air-conditioned rooms, can cause bacteria to grow rapidly, so chill or heat foods

  • Refrigerate leftovers and foods that require chilling within two hours

  • Keep refrigerator at 41°F or below and the freezer at 0°F to prevent bacteria from growing

  • Never defrost food at room temperature; instead, thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave

  • Do not consume ice used to chill food and beverages since it may have gotten contaminated

  • Hot food needs to be kept at 140°F or hotter if not served and consumed right away


  • Place food containers inside tubs of ice to keep chilled, but ensure melted ice is drained and not reused

  • Place appropriate food containers on BBQ or cooking grill to keep food hot; monitor with food thermometer

  • If using disposable gloves, replace with new gloves when changing tasks, and wash hands between such changes

  • Foods kept out of proper temperature for more than 3 hours should be discarded

    Remember, delicious foods are great, but safe and delicious foods are even better!  For more information, call the Food Safety Program of the Division of Environmental Health at 735-7221.

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