Cooking for Groups (Buffets and Picnics)
Consumer information about preparing and serving food for large groups.
- Keeping Food Safe During Buffets and Picnics
Buffets or picnics can be great ways to serve lots of different, delicious foods to large gatherings of people for special occasions, such as holidays or graduations. But they can also be a means to transmit disease among your guests if care is not taken in how the food is handled. Common foodborne illnesses include norovirus, Salmonella and E. coli. Here are some tips to help you have a SAFE party buffet.
- USDA: FSIS: Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer's Guide to Food Safety
A brochure from the USDA designed to help volunteers prepare and serve food safely for large groups such as family reunions, church dinners, and community gatherings.
- USDA: 7 Food Safety Steps for Successful Community Meals
Whether preparing food for a family reunion or a community gathering, people who are great cooks at home don’t necessarily know how to safely prepare and store large quantities of food for large groups. Food that is mishandled can cause foodborne illness. However, by following some simple steps, volunteer cooks can make the event safe and successful!
- MN Extension: Cooking Safely for a Crowd (Video/RealPlayer: 22min)
If you plan, prepare or serve food at large events, watch this fifteen minute presentation prepared by University of Minnesota Extension food science educators. You may be a good cook, but cooking for a crowd is different. Protect yourself and the people you feed by learning safe food handling practices for large-volume cooking.
Hosting Cook-Off Fundraisers
- Chili or Soup Cook-Off Fundraisers
Beginning August 1, 2014, community-based nonprofit organizations, such as a service group or chamber of commerce, may hold chili or soup cook-offs without a food license if they meet certain criteria.
Guidance for Exemptions: Minnesota Statutes Section 157.22
Minnesota Statutes Chapter 157 governs the licensure and inspection of public food and beverage establishments, hotels, motels, lodging establishments, and resorts. Changes made during the 2011 legislative session were effective August 1, 2011.
- Guidance Document: Exemptions for Faith-Based Organizations (PDF)
This document explains law changes that are intended to exempt food served at weddings, funerals, and fellowship meals from requiring a license.
- Guidance Document: Exemptions for School Concession Stands; Fraternal, Sportsman and Patriotic Organizations; Post Disaster Food Service Events (PDF)
This document explains law changes that are intended to exempt certain situations where home-prepared food can be sold, some school concession stands, some food for disaster relief workers and volunteers following a disaster from requiring a license.