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Posted September 2, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Food safety tips for picnics and potluck dinners

If you are planning to attend a picnic, event or potluck dinner it is important to remember some food safety tips so no guests get sick!

Tip #1... WASH HANDS!

There are numerous foodborne illnesses that come from poor personal hygiene and human feces, primarily found in ready-to-eat dishes (those that require no further cooking)

  • Hepatitis A (ready-to-eat foods, shellfish from contaminated water)
  • Norovirus (ready-to-eat foods, shellfish from contaminated water)
  • Shigella spp (potato/tuna/shrimp/macaroni/chicken salads)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (egg /tuna /chicken /macaroni salads, deli meat)


Other foodborne illnesses come from foods being cross-contaminated (mixing raw and cooked foods, using utensils and surfaces that touched raw foods with cooked foods)

  • Salmonella spp.(poultry, eggs, dairy, produce)


Then there are the foodborne illnesses that come from keeping foods at improper temperatures. Be sure to keep hot foods at or above 135 degrees F and cold foods at or below 41 degrees F.

  • Bacillus cereus (cooked vegetables, meats, milk, cooked rice dishes)
  • Listeria monocytogenes (raw meat, ready to eat deli meat, hot dogs, soft cheese)
  • Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (ground beef, contaminated produce)
  • Clostridium perfringens (dishes made with meat/poultry - stews and gravies)
  • Clostridium botulinum (incorrectly canned food, temperature-abused vegetables - baked potatoes in aluminum foil, untreated garlic-and-oil mixtures)

You do not want one of these uninvited guests showing up at your event, so remember safe food handling practices and carry your foods in containers designed to transfer foods correctly.

For more information you can refer to our VCE Publications at: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/category/food-safety.html

Foodborne Illness Source: ServSafe Essentials 5th Edition, 2010.

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