In this “most wonderful time of the year,” our lives are filled with celebration and frequent parties with friends, loved ones, and colleagues. It’s also extremely popular to celebrate the end of a successful year with your co-workers at the office. One popular way to do so is through an office-wide potluck, catered event, or party where co-workers can gather together and take a break from work to relax with one another. It’s important to keep such occasions a time of merriment, so be sure to keep your co-workers safe from food poisoning by following these safety tips.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are several ways you can keep your office party safe and food poisoning free. First, it is important to keep hot the dishes that are supposed to be served hot. These dishes are always best served immediately after cooking or reheating. If serving a hot dish at an office party, take the food straight from the oven and place it in an insulated bag or hot food carrier. Also, if you cannot serve this hot dish as soon as you arrive to the party, return it to the oven. You can also chill the item and heat it later using a microwave or oven. Second, just as hot dishes need to be kept hot, cold food needs to be kept cold. These dishes should remain in a refrigerator for as long as possible. When transporting these dishes, place them in a cooler with plenty of ice keeping them at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Third, it can also help to use several smaller platters. When you have a large dish, you can take a portion of it to a smaller platter that is ready to be consumed, and keep the remainder of the larger dish hot or cold as needed. Lastly, is it always important to keep track of the time. Know how long items have been sitting out, and discard whatever has been out for over two hours. This is especially important to follow for perishable foods like meat, eggs, and casseroles. After two hours, bacteria can grow in food in a high enough quantity to make your co-workers ill.