Holiday Food Safety
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service offers these tips to avoid foodborne bacteria from crashing your party:
- Keep Your Hands Clean--wash your hands before and after touching food, especially raw eggs, fish, poultry, and meat.
- Avoid Cross Contamination--Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods. Also, use separate cutting boards for chopping vegetables and raw meat. Juices left on surfaces from raw meats can contain bacteria that will contaminate untainted foods that are placed on them.
- Be Mindful of Proper Cooking Temperatures--Undercooked foods may harbor bacteria that can make you sick. To make sure these organisms are killed off during the cooking process, heat roasts and steaks of beef and lamb to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit; ground beef and lamb to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit; and all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Host a Smart Buffet Table--"Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold." Serve hot foods in chafing dishes or on warming trays to keep them at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve cold foods in shallow dishes and use nesting trays under which bowls of ice can be kept to keep foods cool at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Furthermore, ensure each dish has a serving utensil to avoid guests from using their fingers to serve themselves. And, when replenishing food on the buffet table, use fresh serving dishes rather than using those that had food sitting in them to avoid cross contamination. Discard any foods that have been left out for two hours or more at room temperature.