Six food safety tips for bake sales

Offering attractive food at a bake sale is not enough; it must be safe as well.

Photo by Jeannie Nichols
Photo by Jeannie Nichols

In Michigan, a food establishment license is not required for bake sales run by a charitable, religious, fraternal or other non-profit organization and serving only home-prepared foods. However, they are still subject to inspection by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or local agencies.

Michigan State University Extension has six food safety tips to keep in mind to have a first-rate bake sale where buyers can know you are doing your best to provide safe baked goods for them to take home and enjoy or eat right on the spot.

  1. Some foods cannot be sold. Remind contributors that some items cannot be sold because they need to be refrigerated, such as those containing custard, cream, meat and cheese fillings.
  2. Keep a donation list. It is important to maintain a list of everyone contributing food. The list should contain the contributor’s name and phone number and what food they contributed. This list is important for a couple of reasons. First, you can see how much of each kind of item was prepared and how much of it was sold. Second, if there are any questions about how the baked item was made someone can be reached that provided that item.
  3. Emphasize hand washing and cleanliness. Be sure to tell all of your donors about the importance of washing hands when working with food and the importance of working in a clean kitchen. Tell them to touch the food as little as possible after it is baked. For example use tongs to place cookies in a baggie or on a plate would be much better than placing each cookie in the bag or on the plate by hand.
  4. Always use new containers. Use new plastic food bags, plates or containers for the freshly baked items. All food items must be covered. They should be in containers with lids or on plates or bowls that are well wrapped. Package the goods in small servings (for one or two people) and in family-sized packages. Remember: presentation is very important so make the food, the  packaging and the display area look clean and inviting.
  5. Use informative labels. Make attractive labels for the baked foods being sold. The label should include the name of the product and an ingredient list as well as any allergen foods that are in the baked food. The allergen foods that should be noted that might be in baked goods include: wheat, eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts and soy.
  6. Offer bite size samples. Providing samples often convince a person to purchase a product. If you choose to do this, be sure to package the samples at home, in individual baggies or covered cups to be handed out at the sale.

Taking the time to follow good food safety practices will provide your customers with a bake sale item that you know they can safely eat and enjoy.

One last tip that is not safety related but very important is to show your thanks. Consider handing customers a premade thank-you message with each sale. 

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