Master Gardener Potlucks and Bake Sales

A question came up about food safety and food handling at Master Gardener events, such as a potluck of a bake sale.

After discussions with Jean Brandt (OSU Master Food Preservers), Lauren Gwin (OSU Small Farms), Jeff Choate (OSU Master Gardeners, Lane County), Patti Choate (OSU Risk), and local Departments of Health, we have a few guidelines that we can share.

  1. Public potlucks are not permissible. Master Gardener potlucks are permissible if the food is shared in good faith, by members of the Master Gardener group.
  2. Even in a closed, Master Gardener group, volunteers should adhere to best practices for food handling and food safety. Please consult OSU Resources on Food Safety, for more information.
  3. For bake sales, which are public events, Lauren Gwin’s recent publication on Oregon’s Home Baking Bill is an excellent resource.
    1. Home-baked goods should be labelled as such, so that people can make informed decisions about their purchase. An example sign can be found here.
    2. Bake sales should exclude home-baked goods that are potentially hazardous, from a food safety point of view.  Potentially hazardous foods include foods that require refrigeration or hot holding. Examples requiring refrigeration are cream cheese cakes, cream cheese pies. Baked goods cannot have milk or dairy in a filling, glazing, or frosting, because they also would require refrigeration (for example cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting).
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4 Replies to “Master Gardener Potlucks and Bake Sales”

  1. This is good guidance for potlucks and bake sales but still leaves some questions unanswered.

    First, who is a member of the “closed Master Gardener group?” Are friends and relatives who are not MGs members of the group?

    What about offering free home-baked goods at MG-sponsored public events where an admission fee is charged? It’s not a bake sale — do the rules for bake sales still apply? That’s not addressed in Lauren Gwin’s publication, which specifically deals with SELLING “baked goods and confectionary items” directly to consumers.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

    1. A closed Master Gardener group would be a Master Gardener event that is not open to the general public. If you are having a Master Gardener social, and close friends and family are invited (but not the general public), that would be a closed Master Gardener event.

      An event, where an admission fee is charged, is a public event, since folks from the general public can access the event by purchasing admission. If you are offering free, home-baked goods, or even if you have baked goods at a closed potluck ~ the rules for a bake sale would still apply. These guidelines and rules are intended to serve as best practices to ensure food safety, and to keep people safe/healthy.

  2. I feel there is a bit of an over reaction considering that its not positively evident where the food poisoning came from.
    Its like, If you suspect a shark bite with no positive proof, but still decide to kill all sharks, where does it get anyone?
    There was no positive proof where the tainted food came from.

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