Fact Sheet

Managing the Risk of Foodborne Illness

Food often plays a supporting role to the fellowship of nonprofit activities, but can soon upstage the event if not handled properly. No organization is exempt from this risk. The most severe cases of foodborne illnesses occur in people who are very old and the very young, immunosuppressed, and healthy but exposed to a very high dose of an organism. Whether serving potluck contributions transported from home or dishes prepared in the organization’s kitchen, take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of your workers. The first step is to accept that food illnesses do happen. The second step is to review policies and procedures that keep food safe with food preparers and servers.

The Four Cs of Safe Food Preparation

Bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses are controlled by four methods:

1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.

2. Compartmentalize: Don’t Cross Contaminate.

3. Cook: Heat to proper temperature.

4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

Other Considerations


Provide oversight of kitchen and serving staff. Select a long-term volunteer or an employee with training or expertise in quantity food preparation and service.

Reheating Foods

Serving Foods

Hiring a Caterer

A licensed caterer is hired to prepare and serve food at the nonprofit or a nonprofit-sponsored event assumes the responsibility of safe food preparation.

It is imperative that food preparation be conducted in accordance with local sanitary codes and proper food preparation practices. These may include:

Food Preparation & Sanitation