As we enter the holiday season, we are often participating in pot-luck celebrations at work and dinners with family and friends. What are some steps we can take to help avoid food borne illnesses at these happy occasions?
If you are the one preparing the food, remember the four basic food safety rules: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. By following these four simple rules, you can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria which could make your family ill and make your holidays less than jolly!
- Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that countertops, cutting boards and utensils are clean by washing with hot soapy water. Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.
- Separate. Help prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for these raw foods and another for salads and ready to eat food.
- Cook. Use a food thermometer to tell if a food is cooked to a safe temperature – just going by color is not sufficient. Always bring sauces, soups, etc to a rolling boil when reheating. If using a microwave oven, cover, stir and rotate the food to ensure even cooking.
- Chill. Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°F., use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter. After the meal, chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling.
If you are participating in a pot-luck lunch at work or school, there are some things to keep in mind for food safety. The most important rule to follow is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Avoid the “danger zone”! It is often a good idea to appoint one person to make sure that foods are being kept at a safe temperature.
- Foods that are to be served hot should be kept above 140°F.
- Cold foods should be kept below 40°F.
- Make sure that the surfaces where food will be served are clean.
- Do not allow food to sit out for over 2 hours.
- Any food that has not been kept at a safe temperature should be discarded after 2 hours.
So enjoy the holidays and the events that accompany them while keeping yourself, your family, friends and co-workers safe from food borne illness.
Be Food Safe www.befoodsafe.org
EXTENSION CONNECTION: Keeping Food Safe (pot luck party tips) http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/news/community/extension-connection-keeping-food-safe-potluck-party-tips-1.56092?page=2
Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County
Reviewer: Linette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension