Safer party food
When you’re hosting a party, the last thing you want is to cut corners on food safety. The guilt of making someone ill is enough, but a lack of food safety could be dangerous. So here’s our tips to make sure your party goes without a hitch.
If you are having an event or party for a community or charity organisation, see our guidance here.
Firstly, give yourself plenty of time to prepare food - you'll save time and ease any time pressures.
- Keep food chilled.
- Keep food in the fridge until it’s needed. And if you’re short on fridge space, move wine and beer into buckets of ice, or somewhere cool like a cellar.
- Don’t cook too quickly.
- Even if people are waiting to eat, don’t reduce cooking times. Better safe than fast.
- Check food is cooked before serving.
- Food should be steaming hot all the way through to kill bacteria. Use a food thermometer to check it has a core temperature of 75°C to be safe.
During barbeque season the temptation is to try and cook everything at the speed of light before the rain comes on. But nobody wants an undercooked burger, so here's how to avoid giving guests sore stomachs instead of full ones.
- Make sure any frozen food is completely thawed before you cook it.
- Keep raw meat in sealed containers, separate from other foods to avoid cross contamination. And use separate plates and utensils for raw meat.
- Don’t use a sauce or marinade for cooked food that’s had raw meat in it.
- Wait for the charcoal to glow red with a powdery grey surface to start cooking. Flames will blacken the outside of food but leave the middle raw
- Keep everything moving so it cooks evenly.
- Check the centre of the food – steam should be coming out of it. Meat isn’t necessarily cooked inside just because it looks charred on the outside.
- Make sure chicken, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are steaming hot all the way through. There should be no pink meat, and juices run clear.
- Sometimes the best way is to cook meat indoors (in a pan, grill or oven), then finish it off on the barbecue for that chargrilled flavour.
Apart from the threat of some unwelcome rain clouds, the other thing that can ruin your picnic is food poisoning, here are some picnic tips:
- Wicker baskets are cute, but cool bags are much better at keeping your food chilled.
- Keep food in the fridge until you need it to keep it as cool as possible for travelling. This is especially important if it contains cream, meat or poultry.
- Always wash fruit and vegetables – if you do this before setting off, your fruit and veg will be clean and ready to eat when you start your picnic.
- Cover your food from pesky birds, insects, dogs and any other unwanted picnic thieves.
Preparing food for someone with an allergy
A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts unusually to specific foods, and the food the body reacts to is known as the allergen. The symptoms experienced differ from person to person and may include:
If someone is allergic to something, simply taking it off their plate isn’t enough. Even a tiny trace can be enough to cause an allergic reaction.
Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking, so it is important that they are managed carefully. When you prepare food for someone with a food allergy you should:
- Ask your guest (or their parents or carers, if you are cooking for a child) what they can and cannot eat
- Before you start preparing food, clean all work surfaces and equipment thoroughly using hot, soapy water to remove traces of anything you might have cooked before.
- Keep allergens separate from other foods and follow advice for avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen.
- Double check ingredients listed on pre-packed foods e.g. sauces for allergens.
- Keep a note of the ingredients used in your dish so you can answer any questions your guests may have about the food.