Cambro Products

Bacteria Non Grata (Keeping Food Safe at Outdoor Events)

shutterstock_399158800.jpgCorporate picnics, weddings, outdoor events and warm weather holiday celebrations all offer plenty of opportunities for your business to earn extra revenue. But higher summer temperatures call for additional care when it comes to keeping food safe for guests and clients. Learn how to prevent foodborne illness and follow these guidelines for food safety during transport and at your event.

Foodborne Illness and Symptoms

The last thing you want people to remember about an event you catered or provided food for is an episode of foodborne illness. Foodborne illness can occur when the temperature of food, condiments or drinks rise high enough in cold foods or low enough in hot foods for bacteria to grow. The temperature danger zone (TDZ) is 41-135° F. Elevated environmental temperatures allow bacteria to thrive and multiply even faster.

shutterstock_326685677.jpgThis type of illness can cause a wide variety of symptoms depending on the type of bacteria ingested.

Onset of symptoms can occur anytime from a few hours to a few weeks after consumption. Some common reported timelines for onset of the most populous bacteria are:

  • Botulism: 4-36 hours
  • e-Coli: 2-5 days
  • Listeria: 7-30 days
  • Salmonella: 8-12 hours
  • Staph: 30 minutes-8 hours

People with weakened immune systems such as infants and children, the elderly or those suffering from other medical conditions may experience more severe symptoms and even death.

Avoiding Bacterial Growth

Safe food handling for outdoor events is paramount for keeping food safe and free of bacteria. You may be familiar with the adage, “Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.” But when it comes to outdoor events, summertime weather makes it even more necessary to ensure all foods are kept at the correct temps. Temperatures during food transport need to be monitored carefully as well as maintaining food safety at the destination. To prevent contamination and steer clear of the TDZ, be sure to abide by the following guidelines.

  • When transporting food, use insulated containers.
  • Keep cold foods below 41°F (4°C).
  • Keep hot foods above 135° F (57°C).
  • When reheating hot foods, maintain an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds.
  • Never use the same ice in drinks that was used for keeping foods cold.
  • Create a barrier over foods and food service areas either under a tent or other structure to keep bugs, bacteria and wind from contaminating the area.
  • Remember to keep condiments under 41° (4°C) and keep containers or utensils sanitary.
  • Utilize a portable hand-washing station if sinks are not provided.

Solution for Cool Temperatures

Whether it’s during transport or at the event, the surfaces that come into contact with equipment, food, drinks and condiments should be safe and free from contaminants. One solution to keep foods safe below the TDZ is the Cambro gel-filled ColdFest® pan. Available in multiple sizes, the ColdFest® pan is perfect for keeping all types of foods chilled to the correct temperature. It can be used for direct food contact and is an excellent choice for condiments such as salsas, dressings, dips and creams. Each size is compatible for use with the Cambro food bar or buffet table and will make a great fit at any summertime celebration. Freeze it for 8 hours (turned upside down) before the event, add pre-chilled ingredients and you’ll be ready to keep everything out of the danger zone. Keep your clients and their guests safe and happy with equipment that keeps everything cool.


For more information on solutions to keep events food safe, contact your local Cambro representative or visit

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