With lockdown restrictions starting to relax all over the country, plenty of people are inviting friends and family over for dinner parties. Planning your menu, picking out a great playlist, and putting on your favourite dinner party outfit can take up all your time. But while it’s exciting to finally be able to host your loved ones, it’s important to make sure you’re still on top of your basic food health and safety practices. Make sure that everyone stays safe by reading our food safety recommendations for dinner parties.
1. Ask about allergies and intolerances
When you’re cooking for loved ones, it can be easy to forget to ask about allergies and food intolerances. Just because you’ve known someone for a long time, this doesn’t mean you will know all of their food requirements. Many people discover allergies well into adulthood, and ongoing health problems can often result in new diets. Ensure that everyone is comfortable by checking in well in advance of your party and make sure your menu is safe for all your guests. Go an extra step by ensuring that any pets are safely secured, so that any guests with allergies to cats or dogs can enjoy your home comfortably.
2. Use tasting spoons
When you’re cooking for yourself, it’s not a big deal to taste your sauce or soup from the cooking spoon, but it’s simply not hygienic for guests. Keep everything food safe by making sure you have clean tasting spoons available to sample your food while you cook. Whenever you need to try your food, you should either use a new tasting spoon or wash your spoon between uses.
3. Practice personal hygiene
This one should go without saying, but it’s always good to remind ourselves to practice personal hygiene in the kitchen. This means washing hands and fingernails regularly, covering any cuts or wounds with food-safe bandaids, and ensuring your hair is tied up securely. These simple things can make food safe for everyone. Inviting your guests to wash their hands before dinner is a good way to encourage food safety and personal hygiene for everyone.
4. Use separate chopping boards
This is another easy one to get right. When switching between different kinds of foods (such as fruits and vegetables, raw meat, and seafood) it’s important to use separate chopping boards. Switching boards eliminates the risk of cross-contamination and makes it easier to safely cook for guests with different dietary needs. If needed, remember to either wash or change knives before cutting any foods that guests are either intolerant or allergic to.
5. Ensure alcohol safety
After months of lockdowns and isolation, it’s natural and normal to want to have a few glasses of wine with friends. But it’s important to know your limits and keep an eye on how much your friends are drinking. If you’re planning on serving alcohol with your meal, make sure to ensure that all your guests are safe to drive at the end of the night. If someone isn’t able to drive safely, make sure you can offer them a couch or a spare room to sleep in. If you’re uncomfortable or unable to serve alcohol safely, it’s okay not to serve alcohol at all!
6. Check your home for pests
While you should be checking for pests and rodents all year-round, it’s extra important when you plan on hosting guests. Common signs of pests include bite marks on food and food packaging, droppings, nests, and missing food. While some pests are mostly harmless, others can lead to serious illnesses. Be a good host and make sure to check your home is free of infestations before inviting others over.
7. Maintain social distancing as needed
While most Australian cities are relatively COVID-19 free (at time of writing), it’s important to maintain compliance with any local or national laws and guidelines. Ensure that your guests have enough room to move safely through your home and that your seating arrangements are as socially distanced as needed. Leaving a seat between guests at the dining table is just one more easy way to make sure your dinner party remains safe as well as fun.
It’s always exciting to invite others over for a meal, but being a good host goes beyond serving delicious food and playing good music. Make sure all your guests are safe by practising our easy food safety tips. If you’re unsure, or you feel like you need a little extra help, check out the food safety course on our website. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!