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Temporary and Outdoor Events

May 9, 2011

BBQ Food Safety

As we gear up for summer we need to keep a few food safety concepts in mind.  Just because the fun increases as we take things outside, it doesn't mean that the risk of food borne illness goes away-- in fact, the possibility of something going wrong increases!  Stick to the following guidelines so that foodborne illness doesn't ruin your summer fun:

1) Keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat items like fruits, salads, breads, and the veggies you are going to put on your grill creations like the tomatoes and onions.  An easy way to think of it is if the item won't get cooked thoroughly, don't put it next to the raw meat.
2) Pre-prep all of your items in a kitchen before taking them to your favorite campsite or BBQ area.  Potable water and space will be limited at those venues which decreases your ability to wash produce, clean cutting boards and knives, and wash your hands when needed.
3) Cook all meats completely.  Chicken should be 165F and burgers at 155F in their thickest part.  Have a calibrated thermometer with a 0-220F range and know how to use it.  Some thermometers must be inserted 2-3 inches for an accurate reading, a depth which doesn't work well with thin foods like burgers.  Look on your thermometer to see if there is a dimple or mark in the side.  If there is, it must be inserted into the food up to that point.  Make sure you check temps with a clean thermometer!
4) Have a way to wash your hands.  Hand sanitizer is not a good substitute.  Nothing is better than scrubbing with soap and using warm to hot water.  Skipping a hand wash after touching raw meat, or touching an unclean surface can contaminate many meals and lead to illness.  Set up a temporary way to wash your hands.  Get creative!
5) Keep cold foods in a cooler or refrigerator at 41F or lower, no higher than 45F.

For those of you out there who have licensed as a Temporary Food Service, you know that there are additional requirements to those stated above.  Please see our Temporary Food Service Guide for more information.

Temporary Food Service/Outdoor Events; Miscellaneous and Consumer Safety
April 8, 2011

TFS Season Approaches!

Even though it doesn't feel like spring, look like spring, or seem like spring will ever get here, TFS season nonetheless approaches.  Yes-- the outdoor events must go on, not snow, sleet, hail, or climate change can stop Missoula from having a good time--- so don't let your lack of a TFS license stop you from dishing delights and doing the same. 

For anyone planning on doing events this summer, now is the time to apply.  The markets are set to kickoff April 30th, so if you are looking to save some money, you need to turn in your application by April 22nd for the $25 fee.  After that, the fee will increase up to $100 the day of the event. 

Also keep in mind the following when serving at events this summer:

* Licenses are specific to an event and location.  Just because you have a TFS license for Out to Lunch does not mean it is good for Downtown Tonight or the Markets.
*Hand wash stations must have hot water for you to operate.  They must also have a spigot that can stay open for the duration of hand washing.
*You must have a commissary kitchen for prep, dishwashing, storage, water supply and wastewater dump.
*Prep is limited onsite at the event.  Choose a menu that is quick 'cook and serve' or that does not require extensive work at the venue.
*You must have overhead and groundcover.
*Quat or chlorine must be available for surfaces and test strips must be available onsite.
*AND... ALL FOOD SAFETY REQUIREMENTS STILL APPLY.  Just because you are at a festive event does not mean that hand washing and temperature control can fall by the wayside.  Wash hands when required; keep hot foods above 135F and cold foods below 41F during transport and service.

If you have any questions about Temporary Food Service events, please contact Jeanna McPherson at or 258-4755.

Temporary Food Service/Outdoor Events
July 8, 2010

Be Food Safe This Summer

The fireworks may be over for another year, but we still (fingers crossed) have several more months of summer.  Whether you are grilling for friends, heading to the lake, or doing a Temporary Food Service event, we all know there are a few things we cannot forget.  One, the famous recipe rib sauce.  Two, beverages... of many varieties, and last, but definitely not least, food safety. 

The same food safety risk factors present in our homes and restaurants can be found outdoors, and in many cases, can be even more difficult to control.  Watching time and temperature, eliminating cross-contamination, cooking to the proper temperatures and practicing proper hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing can keep our outdoor events memorable for the right reasons. These concepts apply not only to our restaurant operators but also to folks at home.  They too can cause illness if they do not pay attention to food safety.

Be food safe and watch the following:

1. Make sure food stays cold enough in coolers.  Food must stay below 45F.
2. If you leave food out, have a way to track the time and discard after four hours.  The sun can be fun, but also the enemy when it comes to food safety. 
3. Keep raw meats in separate coolers from ready-to-eat foods. 
4. Cook all burgers and other raw meats thoroughly.  Burgers must hit 155F for safety, and chicken and other poultry 165F.
5. Have a way to wash your hands with soap and warm to hot running water.  Wash after handling raw meats, after using the restroom or participating in an outdoor activity.

Check out our TFS Checklist for Success for more outdoor food safety information.

Have fun and be food safe this summer!

Temporary/Outdoor Events
July 19, 2010

Cool Before Sealing

What?  I know.  Catchy title.  But what does it mean?
Well, simply put, if you heat food up, put it into a container and place it into the fridge for later use, you must ensure that it cools properly-- and chances are if you seal it in a plastic bucket or glass jar, it's not going to.  I have noticed a lot of products lately, especially at Temporary Food Service booths, that have been improperly cooled and sealed prior to the event-- baked beans heated in advance to mix in the spices, salsa products that were heated prior to packaging without a controlled acidified process and meat sauces made by the gallon.  All of these products need to be properly cooled before sealing them in their plastic buckets and mason jars and taken to events. 

Why?  Easy. We all know that food cannot be left in the Temperature Danger Zone or TDZ (41F to 135F) for very long.  Reason being, bacteria that can cause foodborne illness double every twenty minutes in that temperature range, and some bacteria, like the ones associated with improper cooling, can even produce toxins.  Since food must pass through the TDZ during cooling there is a risk that it will spend too much time out of temperature.  Most often proper cooling is thwarted by the preparer when they seal heated foods in glass and plastic containers, preventing the product from releasing heat.  What they need to do is help the product breathe and release heat. 

So how we do that?

1) Use shallow dishes like hotel pans or sheets pans to cool food.  Only place food in the dish 1-2" deep, put into the refrigerator and stir.
2) Use ice baths.  Fill a prep sink with cool water and ice, set the kettle or dish into the sink, making sure the ice/water mixture does not spill over the edge and into the food.  Stir often.
3) Put ice into the food product to assist cooling.
4) Use smaller portion sizes.  The more surface area to volume ratio you have, the better off you are.  It's much easier to cool a bowl of soup than the whole kettle!
5) Take temperatures and stir often to make sure you hit the required cooling parameters and never combine foods into large or sealed containers until they are completely and properly cooled.

Cooling Parameters:
One Step Method--
From 135F to 41F within four hours.

Two Step Method--
From 135F to 70F within two hours.  From 70F to 41F four hours after that.

Cooling/Reheating; Temporary and Outdoor Events
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