The Best Rule To Stay Mindful Of Cross Contamination At A Potluck

For all the germaphobes out there, all-you-can-eat buffets and self-serve cafeterias may not be your ideal eating environment. Some may feel a bit more at ease at a potluck, a gathering where you likely know who was responsible for making and serving the food you will be eating, as well as those you'll be sharing the meal with. However, these communal eating events can still be full of well-meaning yet faux-pas-committing friends and family who tend to be more laid back about etiquette guidelines. 

Preventing the spread of germs and being considerate of others are not the only reasons to have guidelines in place at potlucks. Certain issues, like cross-contamination of food, can pose a serious health risk for those with certain allergies or other food-related health problems, and making sure that all guests are protected is important. One simple way to ensure that cross-contamination is avoided is by using separate serving utensils for each individual dish. This simple procedure will help keep both messes and medical emergencies at a minimum.  

Put the spoon back where you found it

When hosting a potluck, there are plenty of steps you can take to make sure everyone is aware of what ingredients are in which dishes. Placing all the dishes containing common allergens together or simply sticking a note labeled "dairy free" or "may contain tree nuts" on the appropriate items may be helpful. However, there's still a possibility that someone absentmindedly dips a contaminated utensil into the wrong pot, rendering these precautions useless.

If guests use the same spoons used to scoop different meals, it's not only slightly gross, but also a health hazard. To prevent any cross-contamination, the best step to take is to ensure that everyone knows to put the serving utensil back into the same pot they got it from. But making a simple announcement or writing a note about this expectation may not be enough. 

Therefore it is also a good idea to have everyone bring their own serving utensils along with their dish. This way, no one feels the need to start dipping their personal utensils into pots out of desperation or grabbing a spoon from another nearby dish. It's also not rude to ask the host for more serving equipment, or take the initiative by bringing extras to share.