Food Safety atHoliday Buffets and Parties


By HilaryShallo Thesmar,PhD, RD

Holiday gatherings are a wonderful way to catch up withfriends and family and to enjoy some festive food.  However, food safety is a major issue to consider whetherpreparing or eating at a holiday gathering. Preparing food for a large group of people is very different than cookingfor a family.  Here are a few tipsto keep your holiday parties safe from uninvited guests.

·       When preparing food in large quantities, allow extra cooking timeand use a food thermometer to make sure all parts of the food reach a propertemperature.

·       Prepare food in shallow dishes to allow food to heat quickly whencooking and cool quickly when storing in the refrigerator. Deep dishes slow cooking and cooling times which allows more time forbacteria to grow. 

·       Wash hands, utensils, countertops and all food contact surfacesthoroughly.  Cooking will kill mostbacteria; however, some bacteria can produce toxins which are not killed byheating.  The key is to prevent thebacteria from getting into the food and to keep the food out of the danger zonefor bacterial growth which is 40°F to 140°F. (Cooking temperatures for foods will often be higher than 140°F.)

·       If you think a food has been out of the refrigerator or oven toolong, it is safer to discard it than to serve it to guests. Food should be at room temperature for no more than two hours – less ifit is a temperature sensitive food. 

·       Think of food safety when planning your menu or when making yourfood selections if you are a guest.  Makesure you have the oven space to heat items properly. Watch the turnover of hot and cold items on the buffet table. Discard foods and clean serving platters before adding more food that hasbeen properly handled and cooked or cooled. 

With proper food handling and temperature control,you can make sure that your guests will have a healthy and happy holiday season.

Food Safety
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