Foods prepared by a catering establishment were implicated as vehicles in five outbreaks of foodborne disease. Because of this, a hazard analysis was conducted consisting of (a) evaluation of product temperatures throughout processing and assembly, (b) pH measurements of the salad products and (c) testing samples of the products taken at various stages of processing for pathogenic food borne bacteria. Temperatures of precooked roast beef were too low to allow growth of common pathogenic foodborne bacteria during thawing, slicing and packaging with gravy in a refrigerated room. Temperatures were also too low to allow multiplication of common pathogenic foodborne bacteria in prechilled, prepared salads during refrigerated storage, and there was too little time for multiplication of such organisms during party-pack assembly at room temperature. Chicken parts reached 74 C (165 F) or higher during cooking. While the cooked chicken was held for delivery in a small room that had a maximum temperature of 38 C (105 F), internal temperatures of the chicken did not fall below 82 C (180 F). Cooked chicken held 3 h and 15 min at room temperature (21 C/70 F) -- to simulate delivery and storage -- cooled to approximately 46 C (115 F). During simulated delivery, the temperature of the meat and gravy did not rise above 4 C (40 F). Approximately 1 h was required to reheat the meat and gravy to a temperature of 74 C (165 F) when two sterno cans were used. A 2.7-kg (6-lb) portion of leftover beef took 6.5 h to cool from 60 C to 7 C (140 F to 45 F). Guidelines for caterers and party hosts and hostesses are recommended.

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Author notes

1Use of trade names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Cook County Department of Public Health, or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

2Center for Disease Control.

3Cook County Department of Public Health.

4Presently, Boston University, Project for Strengthening Health Delivery Systems in West Coast Africa.

5Illinois Department of Public Health.