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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 02-28-2011, 03:34 PM   #1
Diva Q
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Default BBQ Food Catering sickens 30 at parent teacher conference.

This is what worries me about drop off catering: who is to blame?

http://triblocal.com/evanston/2011/0...er-conference/
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Unread 02-28-2011, 03:39 PM   #2
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The problem with drop and go, or pickup catering, is that your name is on the food, yet you cannot control how it is stored or served. Then again, maybe the restaurant messed up.
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Unread 02-28-2011, 03:58 PM   #3
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If the food was cooked to proper temperature, it would take a minimum of four hours for the food to develop enough bacteria to make someone that sick. It is a ServSafe rule to throw out any cooked food product after four hours of being outside the temp zone.

If the caterer cooked to temp, delivered and then the customer didn't keep it heated for four to five hours, that is on the customer. How dumb are these people to just let cooked chicken set for up to five hours and then eat it? Regardless of anything else, they share some of the blame.

The other option is that the caterer didn't cook or hold to temp, delivered and then the customer let it sit for 5 hours, which would definitely make 30 people violently ill.

The only way to cover yourself on drop off catering is to take a temp reading when delivered and then have the customer sign off on reheating and storage instructions. If you do that, you are always covered legally.
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Unread 02-28-2011, 07:30 PM   #4
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The fact that no one got sick that ate in the restaurant I feel tells me the food was not handled properly after drop off.
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Unread 02-28-2011, 07:55 PM   #5
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It would make sense to give the customer a card for holding, and/ or reheating with the food that is dropped off. Kind of like they give you at a take and bake pizza joint. Now it sounds like Merle's #1 BBQ will be known as Merle's #2 BBQ...

Thanks for the post and info its some lessons learned.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 05:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
If the food was cooked to proper temperature, it would take a minimum of four hours for the food to develop enough bacteria to make someone that sick. It is a ServSafe rule to throw out any cooked food product after four hours of being outside the temp zone.

If the caterer cooked to temp, delivered and then the customer didn't keep it heated for four to five hours, that is on the customer. How dumb are these people to just let cooked chicken set for up to five hours and then eat it? Regardless of anything else, they share some of the blame.
Actually, the four hours is the aggregate time out of the food safety zone so you need to take the cooking time of the chicken into account also, until it registers 165 F. If you are cooking chicken "low and slow", you may only have two hours to get the food served before the four hours of total time outside the fsz are up.

I agree they didn't perform their due dilligence in educating the client as how to hold the product. What may seem like common knowledge to us is still a mystery to many in the general public.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 07:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theflints01 View Post
Actually, the four hours is the aggregate time out of the food safety zone so you need to take the cooking time of the chicken into account also, until it registers 165 F. If you are cooking chicken "low and slow", you may only have two hours to get the food served before the four hours of total time outside the fsz are up.
Where did you learn that?
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Unread 03-01-2011, 09:03 AM   #8
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My wife sometimes thinks I overstress about food being kept at proper temps. This is a GREAT example.

We were at a VFW picnic a couple of years ago. people had deviled eggs, chicken, all kinds of stuff out in the sun, not on ice, for hours, and kept eating. I wouldn't have touched most of it on a bet!See that a lot at family picnics and such though
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Unread 03-01-2011, 09:18 AM   #9
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I've read that before too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by theflints01 View Post
Actually, the four hours is the aggregate time out of the food safety zone so you need to take the cooking time of the chicken into account also, until it registers 165 F. If you are cooking chicken "low and slow", you may only have two hours to get the food served before the four hours of total time outside the fsz are up.

I agree they didn't perform their due dilligence in educating the client as how to hold the product. What may seem like common knowledge to us is still a mystery to many in the general public.


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Unread 03-01-2011, 09:29 AM   #10
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Merle's has been around for at least fifteen+ years- it was the first place I ate BBQ from a smoker.

Always been a sentimental favorite of mine.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 09:48 AM   #11
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This is exactly why I do not do chicken. Can't count the number of times I've read "group got sick on BBQ chicken". I don't think I've ever heard any issues of folks getting sick on brisket or turkey & even pork incidents seem VERY rare.

Thanks, Hoosier Chef for the temp record & sign off. We give re-heat & hold directions but I did not think about making them sign something with a temp record.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 09:54 AM   #12
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Once the food hits 165 it's killed all germs that may have started to grow. So the 4 hour window doesn't start until the food hits 140 F - actually 135 now per USDA. Now if there was some bacteria growing before cooking then it would be killed but there could be some residual material (dead bacteria) that could still make a person ill. I'm not familiar with the strain listed in the article but if it's one that just make you have the runs then it could easily be from the above.

Also there's lots of possibilities as to why the chicken was not hot.
1. Was cooked to 165 as whole bird then pulled/shredded and put in pans with sauce. But then the temp was probably 120 or so. Hopefully it was put back in the cooker until it again hit 165. I see this with pork all the time. 180 butts are 125 after pulling and saucing.
2. Meat was pulled from smoker in pans to deliver and sat in a vehicle for an hour before getting to the site. Now if in a Cambro no problem but if not it could be a problem.

And the list goes on and on as to why temps were off. But clearly the client had some responsibility leaving it out unheated for 5 hours.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 10:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoosier Chef View Post
If the food was cooked to proper temperature, it would take a minimum of four hours for the food to develop enough bacteria to make someone that sick. It is a ServSafe rule to throw out any cooked food product after four hours of being outside the temp zone.

If the caterer cooked to temp, delivered and then the customer didn't keep it heated for four to five hours, that is on the customer. How dumb are these people to just let cooked chicken set for up to five hours and then eat it? Regardless of anything else, they share some of the blame.

The other option is that the caterer didn't cook or hold to temp, delivered and then the customer let it sit for 5 hours, which would definitely make 30 people violently ill.

The only way to cover yourself on drop off catering is to take a temp reading when delivered and then have the customer sign off on reheating and storage instructions. If you do that, you are always covered legally.
You have two issues here, legal liability and publicity. You may get off on the legal liability part if you have the customers sign off on temp and holding guidelines but the publicity could potentially shut you down. A long term restaurant like Merle's will probably survive but a new caterer or restaurant may not.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 03:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theflints01 View Post
Actually, the four hours is the aggregate time out of the food safety zone so you need to take the cooking time of the chicken into account also, until it registers 165 F. If you are cooking chicken "low and slow", you may only have two hours to get the food served before the four hours of total time outside the fsz are up.

I agree they didn't perform their due dilligence in educating the client as how to hold the product. What may seem like common knowledge to us is still a mystery to many in the general public.
Nope. Once to 165 F, you have killed any bacteria in the chicken. That is why you are to cook chicken to 165 F. Once it cools back to 140 (or 135, depending on who you are talking to), you have 4 hours until the food is considered unsafe.

If the customer didn't keep it heated for 5 hours, regardless of what the chef did, they share the most blame. It is impossible to know in this case if the chef screwed up, because the customer didn't keep it heated properly......that is why the local health department didn't site them. If they had eaten after two hours and got sick, that's on the chef.
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Unread 03-01-2011, 04:36 PM   #15
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No matter who is, to blame it is a P.R nightmare and instead of finger pointing, one must wonder how smart the people teaching our children are , and what, do dilligense, did the restuarant do, and be very thankfull that the runs where the only thing that happened
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