First Time Organizing Food For An Event? Here’s How To Keep It Safe
Calling a catering company may not always be necessary for smaller events at the workplace. Your boss may tag you to set up a food committee to prepare dishes for a meeting or a small workplace gathering. If you have never done this before, the first thing you will need to know is how to keep the prepared food safe.
Why Temperature is Important
Even at small gatherings, people will mingle and might prefer to eat at their leisure. This can present a temperature challenge for food. When food isn’t kept at the proper temperature, bacteria can grow, and when bacteria is allowed to grow, people can get sick. Here are some examples of proper food temperatures:
Hot Food: All hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees.
Keep in mind that no matter where the food is cooked, it should reach a certain temperature before serving. Here are some examples.
- Casseroles: 160 degrees
- Beef, Pork and Lamb: 160 degrees
- Poultry: 165 degrees
Cold Food: All cold food should be held at 40 degrees or below.
Reheating: Precooked food brought in from members of the committee should be reheated to a temperature of 165 degrees.
Use the Truth About Heat, Not the Myth
Try to ignore any rumors or myths you may have heard about keeping food warm and safe from growing bacteria. Once such “myth” is to heat up bricks in the oven and place your dish on the hot bricks. This might sound good in theory, but the truth is that the only thing this will give you is a hot brick that will begin cooling down quickly.
The best way to keep your hot food at the proper serving temperature is to keep it on a constant fire. Sterno and chafing dishes are the best way to do this. They come in all sizes and shapes. You can even find some specifically made to hold soups.
Sterno cans burn a gel that keeps the dishes above them at the proper temperature for a couple of hours. It is a good idea to check the temperature with a food thermometer occasionally.
Additionally, slow cookers also work well to keep your hot foods hot.
Ice is Your Friend
You may have some members of the committee bring in some cold dishes like a fruit tray, vegetable platter or mayonnaise-based salads. To keep these cold, you will need some stainless steel bowls with some ice. Simple place the dish in the ice bowl. That should do the trick to hold the right temperature. Check the ice level periodically for melting ice, empty the water, and refill.
Getting tapped by your boss to put out a spread of food for a small workplace gathering doesn’t have to be a scary situation.