Safe In 60: How To Prevent Food Poisoning At Your Holiday Gatherings
Nov 25, 2019, 7:23 AM | Updated: 7:24 am
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Holidays are a great time to gather with family and friends and create memories – but you’d likely prefer those memories don’t include food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 48 million Americans come down with food poisoning every year. That’s one out of six people.
The risk can go up during November and December, as food is often served buffet style or potluck at holiday gatherings. Those dishes often sit out for a long periods of time at room temperature.
Temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees are considered the danger zone, because it’s a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Remember the two-hour rule: perishable food should not be left out at room temperature for longer than that.
If you’re serving hot food, it should be kept at an internal heat of at least 140 degrees. Slow cookers, warming trays or chaffing dishes can help maintain a safe temperature.
Cold foods should be kept at or below 40 degrees. You can use ice to keep them at a safe temperature on the buffet table.
Never add food to an already used serving dish. It’s best to replace the nearly empty dish with a fresh one or wash the dish before putting the fresh food in it.
If you split your dish into a few containers, you can pull out a fresh one as needed during the party.
Before the party, there are also things to keep in mind for preparing and handling food. The Food and Drug Administration recommends four simple steps:
- Clean: Always wash your hands, food, counters and cooking tools.
- Separate: Keep raw foods to themselves, do not cross-contaminate.
- Cook: Make sure foods are cooked to the right temperature.
- Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
When refrigerating hot foods, put them into shallow containers so they can reach safe temperatures quickly.
Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to food poisoning.