Make sure pot luck isn’t bad luck
Prince George, B.C.- This holiday weekend, lots of folks will be gathering with family or friends, and often will bring a food that is to be part of the meal.
“Pot luck’s are a popular idea this time of the year and they help take the burden off the host” says Neelam Hayer, Environmental Health Officer with Northern Health.
There are some tips for folks who are preparing one dish in their home, then packing it to another where the meal will be served.
“Many cases of food borne illness start in the home kitchen, not because of the food, but because of how it was prepared” says Hayer. Some of the more obvious food handling errors when preparing the food include:
- leaving perishable food out at room temperature for too long ( should not be out more than two hours)
- cooking large amounts of food ahead of time and not properly cooling it. Proper food cooling means the food has been allowed to drop from 60 degrees to 20 degrees Celsius within two hours and from 20 degrees Celsius to 4 degrees Celsius within 4 hours.
- failing to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
Hayer says hot food should be kept at 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Farenheit) and cold foods at 4 degrees Celsius ( 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
“It’s important to verify food temperatures with a thermometer” says Hayer . She advises folks check with the host to ensure hot foods can be kept warm and cold foods can be refrigerated when the dishes arrive.
Food borne illness is often referred to as “stomach flu” but Hayer says there is no such thing “Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps, muscle pain and headache can often be attributed to a food borne illness.”
The food borne illness can be very dangerous, and can be life threatening to the very old, the very young and those with chronic illnesses.