Prevent food safety concerns at your food fundraiser by following some simple guidelines

Making a profit is not the only concern when having a food fundraiser. Practicing food safety guidelines also needs to be a priority.

Harvest dinners, fall festivals and other food fundraisers take a lot of planning and volunteer effort. Volunteers or workers who help prepare and serve the food at these special events need to follow some basic food safety guidelines to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

One of the most critical food safety rules is to only have healthy workers prepare and serve the food. Any worker who shows symptoms such as cramps, nausea, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or jaundice should never be allowed to work with food.

Good personal hygiene is another critical protective measure against foodborne illness. Workers need to wear a clean hat or other hair restraint and remove jewelry. Do not wear false fingernails, fingernail polish or anything that could fall into the food. Clean aprons need to be worn to prevent clothes from contaminating food and need to be changed when dirty.

Workers also need to practice proper handwashing. It is important that workers understand how and when to wash hands. Hands need to be washed often, specifically:

  • Before preparing food
  • Before and after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood
  • After using the restroom
  • After eating or smoking
  • After touching hair, face or body
  • After coughing or blowing nose
  • After handling garbage, cleaning or clearing tables
  • Before beginning a new task

To wash hands correctly, follow these steps. The whole process should take at least 20 seconds.

  1. Wet hands and arms. Use running water as hot as you can comfortably stand. It should be at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Apply soap. Apply enough to create a good lather.
  3. Scrub hands and arms vigorously. Scrub them for 10 to 15 seconds. Clean under fingernails and between fingers.
  4. Rinse hands and arms thoroughly. Use running warm water.
  5. Dry hands and arms. Use a single-use paper towel.
  6. Turn off the water, using the paper towel instead of your bare hands.

If workers will be handling ready-to-eat food they must wear gloves. Single use gloves helps keep food safe by creating a barrier between hands and food. Gloves can never be used in place of handwashing. Hands must be washed before putting on gloves and when changing to a new pair. Gloves must be changed as soon as the gloves become dirty or torn, after four hours of continuous use, before beginning a new task, after handling raw meat and before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food.

Michigan State University Extension encourages organizers of food fundraisers to follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses that could be caused by not practicing good personal hygiene.

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