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Can a church have a potluck dinner without permission from the health department?

Paul Stephen
StarNews

Q. Can a church have a potluck dinner without permission from the health department? This would be where church members all bring a covered dish and they all eat together. Thanks for your help.

A. Alicia Pickett, a food safety expert with the New Hanover County Health Department, says any nonprofit organization with a 501(c)3 number is exempt from food inspection regulations. Groups like churches, clubs and other qualifying entities may host a dinner one time per month, not to exceed two consecutive days or 48 hours.

She stressed that a little common sense should be exercised when attending such events.

“A lot of the outbreaks we see are coming from the barbecues and potluck dinners that aren’t regulated,” she cautioned, noting a recent church supper in Shelby, N.C. that grabbed headlines for a rash of salmonella poisonings.

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Carol

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