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Great food is safe food

November 19, 2013

Health Department reminds you to work with a licensed caterer for your holiday event

TACOMA, Wash. - What are the holidays without great food? But truly great food also must be safe food.

Food inspectors and disease investigators at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department have this important reminder: Food that is not properly prepared, transported and served can lead to food poisoning-an unhappy ending to any special event.

If you are considering hiring a caterer, be aware of the following:

  • Caterers must have a separate catering permit. A catering permit is different than a restaurant permit.
  • Permitted caterers prepare food in an approved kitchen. Permits assure that your local health department regularly inspects the kitchen.
  • Permitted catering staff are trained to handle food safely and are trained in safe food handling practices.
  • Approved catering companies have the proper equipment to prepare and transport food safely.
  • Back-up food items should be either refrigerated or kept in the oven prior to serving. Uneaten food that has been stored at room temperature during the event should be discarded after two hours.
To help keep you and your family illness-free during your special event, remember to wash your hands before and after preparing food, before you eat, after shaking hands and, of course, after using the bathroom. You should wash hands with warm soap and water for 20 seconds.

Whether you are planning a holiday party, wedding, family reunion, or other special event, make sure to keep your event safe and enjoyable for everyone. Make sure your caterer is licensed call the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Food and Community Safety Program at (253) 798-6460 or email View a list of caterers that are licensed to cater in Pierce County at

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager, (253) 798-2853,
Katie Lott, Environmental Health Specialist, (253) 798-3577,

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