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Food Safety with Idaho® Potato Salads

Q:

Now that the warm weather is coming this way, can you explain more about the food safety issues of serving an Idaho® potato salad on a hot day?

A:

Now that the warm weather is coming this way, can you explain more about the food safety issues of serving an Idaho® potato salad on a hot day? This is a very important topic so I thank you for asking this question.  Here are some food safety tips when it comes to making and serving Idaho® potato salad for a picnic:

  • Use commercial mayonnaise instead of making from scratch as the egg ingredient has been pasteurized and the additional lemon or white vinegar is acidic and has quite a bit of salt.  All these ingredients help when paired with a low acid food such as potatoes.
  • Raw eggs are a possible safety hazard when left out, and can develop salmonella bacteria when left at room temperature.  If adding sliced eggs, make sure they are hard boiled and therefore fully cooked.
  • I was always taught, hot food hot and cold food cold (and from my mentor when running a food service operation “get the money in the bank”). These temp guidelines are important in warm weather, but also remember to start with clean utensils, bowls and ingredients with no cross contamination, especially from the cutting board when chopping the potatoes.
  • Once the salad is finished being prepared, chill in the refrigerator for several hours, four is ideal.
  • Pre-chill the cooler for the potato salad with cold water or ice before dumping and adding in the finished salad.
  • Bring along a larger bowl and make a nest of ice to place the bowl of potato salad into, keep it covered until service and remove once the buffet line has gone through (you can always place it out later for seconds). Also, it is very important to keep the potato salad out of direct sun light.

Some people have great success in transporting a potato salad to an event by placing the blue pre frozen ice containers in the middle of the salad to keep the center section cold.