Re: Handling leftovers

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Posted by Steve Karoly on September 16, 1997 at 23:02:22 :

In Reply to: leftover foods or posted by carl jones on September 16, 1997 at 01:30:27 :

Hi Carl :

One constant concern you have in situations like this is food safety. Although there may not be a direct violating of a law or health code, common sense food safety rules should be applied.

At the end of an event like a reception, you will be hard pressed to still meet time and temperature requirements (except for the food stored in the reefer). Remember the two time honored food safety rules: keep hot food hot (140 deg. F or above) and cold food cold 40 deg. F. or lower). The second rule: keep food in the danger zone for no more than four hours.

Most likely the food you've had on the buffet table has not been kept at the proper temperature for some time. (You basically have four hours from the time the dish entered the danger zone to serve or discard it.) Although I'm sure you're using chafing dishes for some of the dishes, some of the food the guests are trying to take home is dangerously close to having been in the danger zone for four hours. Even if the food has only been in the danger zone for two hours, you have little control of what the "customer" does with once he walks out to the car.

You could be presenting yourself with a food borne illness nightmare and risking a law suit if you give this food away. (Of course, it'll be the ungrateful fool who sues you.) It's a risk that you don't want to take. (This is the problem I have with these "lets give the leftover food from restaurant to the needy" programs the President and others have proposed--it's largely a question of safety, not politics.)

At an event like this you usually don't have proper cooling facilities to quickly bring the food to 40 deg. F or less in a safe time. Improper cooling of food is the leading cause of food borne illness. I like your question about the availability of a cooler in the car. But watch out, you'll soon get repeat wedding goers who come prepared with an iced down cooler waiting in the car!!!!!

Of your two responses, I like the second one the best. I hope they came to the wedding to help the bride and groom celebrate their new life together and not to bum free food.

Steve Karoly

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