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Posts Tagged ‘food safety’

Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of CoffeeShould you eat lunch at your desk?

Do you find yourself eating at your desk at work more and more often?  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that at least 83% of Americans eat at their desk several times a week. While many of us would prefer to have lunch with a friend or at least go out for lunch, we often find ourselves “too busy” to do so.

So is eating at your desk healthy?  When we eat at our desk, we often are totally unaware of just what and how much we are eating. We’re not focused on the food as we answer emails, sort papers and answer phone calls. But you can make healthy choices by bringing your lunch from home and avoiding take-out lunches which can tend to have excess calories, fat, and sodium and are often lacking in nutrients. Some healthy lunch choices could include:

  • A salad with added protein and fiber – some leftover chicken, healthy beans and/or nuts.
  • A whole grain wrap filled with veggies.
  • Homemade or low-sodium prepared soup that you can heat in the microwave.
  • Yogurt with added fruit and granola.
  • A sweet potato or fresh vegetables that you can pop into the microwave.
  • Water with a slice of lemon, lime or orange.
  • For a sweet ending to your lunch, fresh fruit makes a great dessert.

If you are bringing your lunch from home, use an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack to keep your food cold until you can put it in the refrigerator at work. You want to be sure and wash your hands before eating your lunch and clean your desk top. According to an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics survey only 36 percent of survey respondents said they clean their work areas, desktop, mouse and keyboard on a weekly basis; 64 percent said they do so on a monthly basis or less.

A 2007 study from the University of Arizona found that desktops have 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat!

So, if you are going to eat at your desk, take a few minutes to disinfect the area before opening your food. Once you start eating, avoid touching your phone, mouse,
etc. as you could be constantly re-contaminating your food.  You might also use a placemat or at least a paper towel under your lunch for added protection!

To answer the question, eating at your desk is not the healthiest activity!  Not only are you likely to eat more unhealthy foods, you are risking contaminating your food and potentially becoming ill. Take a little time for yourself at lunch time – walk to the kitchen or break room, invite a co-worker to join you and enjoy that healthy lunch you have prepared!

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/7-tips-eating-while-you-work

http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=6442464916&terms=lunch%20food%20safety#.Uwd2PMYo7DQ

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It’s flu season!   Best protection is handwashing.  Regular soap?   Or antibacterial soap?  Does antibacterial provide extra protection against getting sick?  soap on hands

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isn’t sure antibacterial really makes any difference.  In fact, the FDA is proposing companies need to provide more evidence antibacterial soaps are more effective, than just washing with plain soap and water in preventing illnesses.  The FDA also wants more data on the safety of using antibacterial soaps.

Some of the chemical ingredients in antibacterial soaps are associated with risks that may outweigh any benefits.  Some ingredients may increase the bacterial resistance to antibiotics and cause hormonal changes in our bodies.

Many liquid soaps contain the chemical triclosan.  Although this chemical is not known to harm humans, it may change the way hormones work in our bodies, according to some animal studies.  Laboratory studies have shown concern with triclosan causing bacteria resistance to antibiotics.  One positive way triclosan is effective is in preventing gingivitis, when it has been added to toothpaste.  Thus, the FDA would like more studies and evidence triclosan is safe and effective.  The Environmental Protection Agency also has some concerns with triclosan and is collaborating with the FDA.

Adding to this concern is recent data indicates we are exposed to these chemical ingredients more than previously thought.  Thus, increasing our risks with regular use over time.

How do you Drug label on soapknow if your soap is antibacterial?  Most products are labeled with the word “antibacterial.” Look for a Drug Facts Label which is required on antibacterial soap or body wash.   You can also check the ingredients.   Cosmetics do not have to carry a Drug Facts Label, so you will need to check the ingredients.

Regular soap or antibacterial soap?  Try regular soap and remember to use warm water, rub hands together for at least 20 seconds, rinse well and dry.  Handwashing is a key to staying healthy.

Writer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer:  Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:

United States Food and Drug Administration, [2013].  FDA Taking Closer Look at ‘Antibacterial’ Soap, FDA Consumer Health Information, Available at http://www.fda.gov/consumer

WebMD, [2013].  Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know, WebMD, Available at http://www.webmd.com/fda/triclosan-what-consumers-should-know

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thanksgivingThanksgiving is almost here! It’s a holiday for enjoying family, friends and lots of delicious food. Be sure to share good food safety practices to keep your Thanksgiving dinner safe. Here are some simple tips to keep this holiday meal safe.

Safe Thawing
• Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the turkey or any food.
• Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below. Allow approximately 24 hours per 4-5 pounds of turkey. A very large bird may take up to 5 or 6 days to thaw.
• If you forgot to thaw the turkey, submerge the turkey in pan of cold water, enough to cover the turkey. Change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes thawing
time for every pound.

Safe Preparation
• Wash hands with soap and water.
• Make sure food prep areas and surfaces, utensils and plates are clean.
• Use separate cutting boards for meats and fruits/vegetables.
• Avoid putting cooked food on cutting boards that have touched raw meat.
• Avoid wiping your hands that have touched raw food with dish towels.
• Keep raw food away from vegetables and side dishes that will not be cooked.
• Stuffing the turkey is not recommended. Bake the stuffing separate.
• Never bake the turkey below 325 degrees in the oven.
• Use a food thermometer. The pop-up timer is not a reliable method to determine if the turkey is cooked to the minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
• Let the turkey set 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to set.
• Stuffing should also reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.

Serving Food Safely
• Keep hot foods hot and colds food cold.
• Keep the pumpkin pie and any cold desserts in the refrigerator.
• Use clean serving spoons for each dish.
• Wash hands with soap and water before handling food or eating.
• Carve the turkey with a clean carving knife and fork.

Storing Leftovers
• Store leftover food within two hours after serving, including pumpkin pie.
• Use several shallow containers to store leftovers.
• Store in the refrigerator if eating within 3 days.
• Keep in the freezer for longer storage. Label and date.
• Reheat all leftovers to 165 degrees F. Gravy should be brought to a rolling boil.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Resources: fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Poultry_Preparation
www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp2f=10269
Author: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu.
Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, MS, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

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Thanksgiving FeastDo you have a holiday party in your future?  Many of us will be hosting food events for family and friends throughout the holiday season.  You don’t want to be the one to make anyone sick from your food event.  Start with simple basics.

  • Clean everything before you start.  Use a solution of 1 Tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water.  Use this to clean your sink, countertops and as a sanitizer for cutting boards and other cooking utensils.
  • Next, plan your menu carefully.  Choose some items that can be safely left out of refrigeration like pretzels, crackers, baked products and fruit.  Make sure you have the equipment to keep other items hot (about 140 °F) or cold (under 40°F)
  • When shopping, pick up the perishable items (those needing refrigeration) last at the grocery store.  And, make sure this is the last stop on the way home.
  • Theeasiest way to assure your food is safe is to make sure the perishable food does not stay out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours.  A sit down meal that is served and then cleaned up is safer than a buffet style meal that stays out for hours. 
  • Keep a food thermometer handy so that you cook foods to the proper temperatures.  Color is not enough when deciding if your meat, soup or casserole is done.

o   Cook chicken to 165°F

o   Cook whole meats such as beef and pork to 145°F

o   Ground beef and pork should be cooked to 160°F

o   Heat soups and casserole dishes to 165°F

o   When holding hot dishes on a buffet table keep them at 140°F

  • Finally, put leftovers away promptly, within 2 hours of serving.  When reheating them for later service, heat to 165°F.

Following a few simple rules will keep you, your family, and your friends from getting a foodborne illness this holiday season.

Reference:  USDA Blog, Cooking Meat?  Check the New Recommended Temperatures, http://blogs.usda.gov/2011/05/25/cooking-meat-check-the-new-recommended-temperatures/

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewed:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

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4802625827_63cd6f152e_sChildren will soon be returning to school and to the routines that the school year brings. For many families, this means back to the routine of packing a lunch each day.  We want to make sure that the lunches we pack are healthy, safe and delicious!

For a healthy lunch, keep in mind the MyPlate guidance. Check out Choosemyplate.gov . One of the main messages of MyPlate is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. This is something relatively easy to accomplish in a lunch you pack yourself. For example, pack a whole fruit like an apple, banana, or a bunch of grapes. You can also add an individual container of applesauce or a variety of different fruits that are packed in natural juice. For vegetables, most children like baby carrots especially if you include a small container of low-fat dip! Other veggie favorites are cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers or even a small salad.

Another message from MyPlate is to make at least half of the grains you eat during the day whole grains. Use whole grain bread for the sandwich you pack, try pretzels for a snack instead of potato chips. Whole grain crackers spread with peanut butter or eaten with slices of cheese are a great addition to a healthy lunch.

MyPlate recommends that we consume low fat or fat free dairy products. Most schools make fresh, low fat milk available for children in the lunchroom. The calcium provided by milk is very important to children’s developing bones. If your child is not a milk drinker, you can pack yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese or sliced cheese to help them get the calcium they need each day.

You don’t want to forget the protein group. There are a variety of foods that we can choose from to meet the need for protein in our lunch. If you choose meat, make sure that it is lean. Turkey or lean beef are good choices. Other non-meat sources include eggs, peanut butter, beans, nuts, seeds and soy products.

To pack a safe lunch, remember that any perishable food you pack needs to be kept below 40° to stay safe. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.

  • Use an insulated lunch bag with a frozen ice pack.
  • Freeze the sandwich, a juice box or yogurt container and pack it in the lunch bag to keep everything safe. By the time lunch rolls around, the sandwich, juice or yogurt should be thawed!

You also want to be careful about cross-contamination. This can happen if you are reusing paper or plastic bags or if you don’t remember to wash out the reusable bag each day. Remind your child to discard wrappers and leftover food as soon as they finish their lunch. Don’t forget the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of bacteria. If your child won’t have access to warm water and soap before eating, it wouldn’t hurt to put a disposable hand wipe at the top of the lunch bag!

A delicious lunch may not be something that you and your child will necessarily agree on. Be sure and ask them for ideas for a healthy, safe lunch that they would like to eat.  Don’t fall into the peanut butter and jelly every day trap! You might ask your child to help make a list of healthy foods from each section of MyPlate and use that list to vary what is packed each day.

By allowing your child to help plan and pack their own lunch, you are providing an opportunity to talk about making healthy food choices. Encouraging them to make a choice from each of the food groups every day may increase the odds that they will actually eat the lunch that is packed and help them develop good eating habits for life.

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Source:  MyPlate    http://choosemyplate.gov

School Lunches: Add Variety by soliciting the help of your children http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/school_lunches_add_variety_by_soliciting_the_help_of_your_children

What Can I Pack my Kids for Lunch   http://www.ext.colostate.edu/

Healthy Packed Lunches for Back to School http://byf.unl.edu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=d17c90e6-539d-4ab8-92e7-cbfe2e482647&groupId=4089458&.pdf

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fourth july

Each year on July 4, Americans celebrate our independence with picnics, barbecues, parades, fireworks and family gatherings. Let’s celebrate safely this Fourth of July with the following safety tips.

Food Safety Practices

•Perishable foods are limited to 2 hours sitting at room temperature (just one hour if it is over 90 degrees). Keep cold foods on ice. Hot foods can be kept hot on the grill. Refrigerate leftovers promptly and discard any perishable food that has been out too long in the hot temperatures.
• Use a clean platter and grill spatula to take the cooked food off the grill. The juices left on the grill spatula during grilling and the platter used to hold the uncooked meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food.
• Use a food thermometer to determine if the grilled meat is done. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to ensure it has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

o Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.
o Hamburgers (ground meats) cooked to 160 degrees F.
o Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F.
o Hot dogs should be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Grilling Safety

• Never grill indoors, in the garage, carports, under awnings
• Always keep your grill away from house siding, railings, trees and anything else flammable
• Check gas grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks
• Keep children away from the grill

Be a Safe Swimmer

• Never swim alone
• Be sure children are supervised at all times

Parades

• Keep children away from floats and vehicles traveling on a parade route
• Be sure children know what to do if they become lost or separated from parents or supervisors
• Designate a meeting place as soon as you arrive in a public location
• Remember to keep your cell phone battery charged.
Leave fireworks to the professionals
• It is not worth the risk to end up injured playing with fireworks.
• Enjoy the fireworks display in your community!
Stay safe and celebrate this 4th of July!

Resources: fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education

Author: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family & Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewers: Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, MFCS, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Elizabeth Smith, RD,LD, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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The trend to “go green” with using cloth reusable shopping bags is a good one.  But how safe is it to reuse cloth for food products?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the materials used for reusable shopping bags can get contaminated with germs from food items.  The microorganisms Salmonella and E. coli are two of the main culprits found on food items that can be left behind in the reusable bags.

Keep you and your family from getting sick by following a few simple steps:

  • Wash cloth bags in the washing machine often.????????????????????????????????????
  • Plastic lined reusable bags should be washed and dried by hand.
  • Use separate bags for different food products.  Designate separate bags for meats, fruits and vegetables and ready-to-eat foods.  This will help prevent cross contamination.
  • Use your grocery bags just for food products.  Don’t use the same bags for books, movies, toys or other items.

More information about using reusable shopping bags can be found at:  www.foodsafety.gov/blog/reusable_bags.html

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewed by:  Elizabeth Smith, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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Corncobs and meat on grillAs the weather warms up and fresh vegetables are readily available there are many good choices to add vegetables to your outdoor grilled meals.  It not only keeps the heat out of the kitchen, it adds variety to your family meals.  Outdoor grilling can be a healthy, low-fat way to cook.

  • Place large vegetables such as corn on the cob and asparagus directly on the grill.
  • Smaller vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes should be washed and cut into uniform pieces. Place them in an aluminum foil packet or a vegetable grilling basket.
  • For added flavor, marinate for 15 minutes before grilling by tossing them with a mixture of 2 parts oil, one part lemon juice, a crushed garlic clove and other herbs of your choice.
  • Make kabobs by putting the vegetables on a skewer, or use aluminum foil or a vegetable grilling basket
  • Cook on a medium-hot grill, turning them often.
  • When easily pierced by a fork, they are done.   

Vegetable Kabobs

2 large green peppers, cut into 1” squares

2 medium onion, quartered, separated into sections

2 small zucchini, cut into 1” pieces

4 small yellow squash, cut into 1” pieces

12 whole mushroom

1 bottle fat-free Italian salad dressing

Place vegetables in a non-metal dish, pour Italian salad dressing over all and mix.  Marinate vegetables in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Drain vegetables and thread alternately on skewers. (Or use a foil pouch or vegetable basket.) Grill kabobs 15-20 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.  Makes 4-6 kabobs.

Sources:

Penn State Extension http://extension.psu.edu/health/nutrtiion-links/recipes

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Are You a Nutritious Grill Master?  G2048  http://extension.unl.edu/publications

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County.

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ImageWe have waited patiently all winter long and spring is ALMOST here!  There is anticipation for the birds returning from the south to greet us with a song, a warm breeze through the green grass, and a positive feeling is in the air.  Along with spring comes the first holiday of the season – Easter.

If we were playing Family Feud and were asked to list our top five responses to things associated with Easter, eggs would definitely be one.  There are so many things we can do with eggs at Easter time.  They can be hard boiled or the center blown out.  They can be dyed, glittered, stenciled, and stickered.  They can be used as a decoration, put in baskets, or used in an Easter egg hunt. 

 What I am most interested in is egg safety at all stages of the Easter egg process.

We are going to buy a dozen eggs to get ready for decorating and want to be sure and keep them safe. How do we ensure egg safety during the holidays?  The USDA gives the following tips that should be used when purchasing and using eggs:

  • Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, un-cracked shells.
  • Buy eggs before the “Sell-By” or “EXP” (expiration) date on the carton.
  • Take eggs straight home from the grocery store and refrigerate them right away. Check to be sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below. Don’t take eggs out of the carton to put them in the refrigerator -- the carton protects them. Keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator – not on the door.
  • Raw shell eggs in the carton can stay in your refrigerator for three to five weeks from the purchase date. Although the “Sell-By” date might pass during that time, the eggs are still safe to use. (The date is not required by federal law, but some states may require it.)
  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs. To avoid cross-contamination, you should also wash forks, knives, spoons and all counters and other surfaces that touch the eggs with hot water and soap.
  • Don’t keep raw or cooked eggs out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.

So now we have our eggs.  While there are a variety of ways they can be prepared before being decorated, the focus today will be on hard boiling the eggs.  Here are the steps from Alabama Cooperative Extension:

  1. Start with 6 raw eggs.  Make sure the eggs are clean and that none of them are cracked or broken.
  2. Place a single layer of eggs in the bottom of a pot.
  3. Fill the pot with water and make sure that the eggs have at least an inch of water above them.
  4. Cover the pot with a lid and place on the stove top with the heat on High.  Let it boil for four minutes and then turn off the heat.
  5. Take the pot off the stove.  With the lid still on, let the eggs sit for 15 – 17 minutes.
  6. Place the pot in the sink, take off lid, and fill with cold water.  Let the eggs sit in the cold water until completely cool.
  7. Take the eggs out of the water and dry them off.  They can now be decorated or peeled to eat.

Once all of the eggs are hardboiled, cooled, and dried, it is time for decorations.  Decorating eggs is a great time to bond with family and friends.  There are thousands of different ways to decorate eggs.  Personalize them for each person to make them feel special!

Now that the eggs are decorated, they are egg hunt ready.  If the eggs for the hunt are going to be eaten, keep the following points from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in mind:

  • Consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.
  • Make sure all the hidden eggs are found and then refrigerate them. Discard cracked eggs.
  • As long as the eggs are NOT out of refrigeration over two hours, they will be safe to eat. Do not eat eggs that have been out of refrigeration more than two hours. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their shells and use them within 1 week.
  • If you are planning to use colored eggs as decorations, (for centerpieces, etc.) where the eggs will be out of refrigeration for many hours or several days, discard them after they have served their decorative purpose.

Whatever you decide to do this Easter, make sure that you are using eggs safely.  If you are planning to eat the Easter eggs keep in mind that they should not be out of refrigeration for more than two hours.  Follow the above suggestions and you’ll have egg-xactly the Easter you were hoping for!

Written by:  Dana Brown, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, brown.4643@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Resources:

Egg Handling and Safety Tips for Easter: http://food.unl.edu/web/safety/egg-handling-safety

Safe Eggs for Easter:  http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/E/EFNEP-0215/EFNEP-0215.pdf

USDA Gives Hard Boiled Tips for Easter and Passover Food Safety: If You Find a Hidden Easter Egg Three Days Later, Throw It Out! Leave That Egg On The Passover Seder Plate:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news/NR_032105_01/index.asp

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salsaThe Super Bowl is not just a day for football, but also a day for parties and food.  Don’t invite food borne illness to your party.  Follow a few simple rules to keep it Super Safe.

CLEAN and wash kitchen surfaces, utensils and hands before preparing or serving food and wash all fruits and vegetables including those you plan to peel.

SEPARATE raw meats and poultry from ready-to-eat foods like fruit and vegetables.

COOK meat and poultry to the right temperature by using a food thermometer.  Cook poultry to 165°F, ground meat to 160°F, and steaks to 145°F.

CHILL raw and prepared foods to 40°F within two hours.

If food is going to be sitting out for serving, remember to keep cold foods chilled to 40°F or below and hot foods heated to 140°F or above.  Offer foods in smaller containers and put new ones out as they run out instead of putting all the food out at once.  It will stay within the temperature range and keep the food safe.  Also, offer serving spoons and small plates to reduce the opportunity for guests to eat directly from the bowls.  Don’t leave any perishable food outside the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours.

Source:  foodsafety.gov

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Liz Smith, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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