Keep the Holidays Happy!


Be Food Safe – Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill! Thanksgiving is past, but there may be more holiday celebrations ahead – with gift-giving and larger amounts of food for more people than usual.

A popular way to celebrate holidays or any party occasion is to invite friends and family to a buffet. However, this type of food service, where foods are left out for long periods leaves the door open for uninvited guests -- bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Here are some food-handling tips to help you have a safe holiday party.

When you shop. Avoid canned goods that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted. These are the warning signs that dangerous bacteria may be growing in the can. Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.

Safe Food Handling. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food. Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean also. Always serve food on clean plates -- never those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria that may have been present in raw meat juices can cross-contaminate the food to be served.

Cook Thoroughly. If you are cooking foods ahead of time for your party, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to safe internal temperatures. Cook fresh roast beef, veal and lamb to at least 145 °F for medium rare and 160 °F for medium doneness. Roast whole poultry to a minimum of 165 °F. Fish should be cooked to 145 °F or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

Keep Hot Foods HOT And Cold Foods COLD. Hot foods should be held at 140 °F or warmer. On the buffet table you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice.

The 2-Hour Rule. Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more.

Leftovers.Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours. This includes leftovers taken home from a restaurant. Divide leftovers into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until served again. Reheat foods to 165 °F.

Remember to practice food safety this season! Have an enjoyable and food-filled holiday!


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