Keep Food Fundraisers Safe

Posted: April 12, 2014

Now is the time of year when churches and other non-profit organizations start to hold food fundraisers. Cooking for crowds is not the same thing as cooking meals for your family. There are potentially hazardous foods that volunteer food handlers may be preparing and they need to know what to do to keep them safe...

Foodborne illness does happen. If two or more people get ill from eating the same food, it's considered an "outbreak." If food handlers know what to do as far as personal hygiene and holding temperatures, then that's a good first step to keeping food safe.

Food handlers should know that there are three causes of foodborne illness:

  • Chemical hazards are when cleaning supplies, medicines or even sanitizers get into the food. Some metals can be a hazard when cooking acidic foods, and some wild mushrooms and shellfish can be toxic as well.
  • Physical hazards are those things that accidentally get left in food, like metal shavings from a can, a toothpick or even a Band-Aid. Insects can make their way into foods as well, and are considered a physical hazard.
  • Biological hazards are those things we normally hear about in the news when an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs. E. coli and Salmonella are probably the most well-known, but there are also many other foodborne illnesses. The biological hazards are microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, but also include parasites, molds, spores and yeasts. We can't see them, and need to protect our foods from them by:
  • Keeping the premises and ourselves clean
  • Knowing the holding and cooking temperatures of food
  • Avoiding cross-contamination
  • Cooling foods in a timely manner