The holidays are a time for fun parties and family get-togethers that often revolve around tasty food. However, if certain precautions are not taken, food-borne illness could quickly ruin your festivities according to Christeena Haynes, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“The steps are simple and easy to do but it is worth having a reminder this time of year on the guidelines you need to follow to prevent your family and friends from getting sick,” said Haynes.
When preparing food:
• Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food.
• Prepare food in a clean kitchen using clean utensils, plates and cutting boards.
• Keep raw meat, fish and poultry separate from other foods. Wash hands and kitchen surfaces/utensils that have been used with raw meat before preparing other foods.
When serving and holding food at room temperature for longer than two hours:
• Keep cooked foods hot (at least140 degrees Fahrenheit) using chafing dishes or slow cookers.
• Keep cold foods at 40 degrees or below by placing them in bowls of ice or on small serving platters that are replaced frequently so they are not left sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.
• Store foods containing dairy, such as eggnog, cheesecake, cream pies and cakes with whipped cream or cream cheese frostings, in the refrigerator until serving time.
When storing leftovers:
• Refrigerate within 2 hours of being left at room temperature.
• Store them in a refrigerator that is set at a temperature of 40°F or below
• Divide large portions of hot food into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator to help them cool quickly.
• Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
• Reheat cooked leftovers to 165 degrees.
• If microwaving food, cover food, stir and rotate to ensure even cooking.