How to Avoid Being the Woman Who Almost Killed All Her Dinner Guests

appetizersA home cook in Australia had to pay more than $20,000 in legal fees after she inadvertently poisoned more than 50 people at a community barbecue. What made people so sick? A salad made with raw egg mayonnaise that food safety investigators discovered had been contaminated with salmonella.

Now, in this particular instance, the woman who provided the food for the function was fined because she actually charged money for it and was, therefore, classified as an (unregistered) business. Even so, the story taps into every home cook's biggest fear:

What if we accidentally poison our dinner guests?


Do yourself a favor: Don't be like the Australian woman. Here are some food safety tips to make sure your friendly get-together doesn't turn into a group trip to the emergency room:

-This may shock you, but hot foods should be served ... you guessed it ... HOT, ideally at 140°F. Use a thermometer to make sure you are cooking foods -- especially meat! -- to a proper internal temperature. Then use the oven (at 200-250) or warming plate to keep them warm throughout the meal.

-Of course, the opposite is true for cold foods. Use the refrigerator, bowls of ice, a cooler -- it doesn't matter, just do what you have to do to keep cold foods cold (around 40°F).

-Perishable foods can sit out for about two hours -- any longer and you're just asking for trouble.

-Do you have separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods like raw veggies or cheese? No? Really? That's totally sick.

-Are guests with dirty hands returning again and again to the communal finger-food tray? Don't invite those people back.

-This should go without saying, but a reminder never hurts: You can never be too clean in the kitchen. This goes for all surfaces, utensils, cooking equipment, and hands!

-Don't serve raw egg mayonnaise. Sure, it's delicious, but why take the chance?


Image via amiefedora/Flickr

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