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Please Pass the Bacteria

Recently, while reviewing some documents, I found a Los Angeles Health Department 2005 ACDC Special Report captioned "Please Pass The Bacteria: An Outbreak of Clostridium Perfringens Associated With Catered Thanksgiving Meals". I liked the title, and thought I would explore the subject of food safety risks associated with catered meals. Thanksgiving is now long past us, but the topic may still be appropriate given the quickly approaching holidays and related celebrations. Not all of us can whip up feasts for many people on our own!

The Maryland Community Health Administration defines catering services as "The preparation or provision and the serving of food or drink by a food service facility for service at the provider's premises or elsewhere in connection with a specific event or a business or social function or affair". [1] In other words, a licensed caterer provides food and/or drink for a specific function at a location generally determined by that specific function.

Caterers must be licensed, and licensing requirements and certifications vary from state to state. Typically, the state Department of Health is responsible for establishing the guidelines for training and certification of all food handlers. Caterers generally must take food-hygiene courses to learn to prepare and serve food items, and to avoid potential hazards that surround the issue of food safety.

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