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 leave the door open for uninvited guests, bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Festive times for giving and sharing should not include sharing foodborne illness. Here are some tips from the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline to help you have a safe holiday party.
Safe Food Handling:
Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean also. Always serve food on clean plates, not those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria, which may have been present in raw meat juices, can cross contaminate the food to be served.
If you are cooking foods ahead of time for your party, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to a safe minimum internal temperatures. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops may be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
•All cuts of pork to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
•Ground beef, veal and lamb to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
•All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use Shallow Containers:
Divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. Replace empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many people’s hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting out at room temperature.
The Two-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.
Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold:
Hot foods should be held at 140 degrees Fahrenheit 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 degress Fahrenheit or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them.
For further information, you may contact Adrianne Vidrine at the LSU AgCenter at (337) 788-8821 or you can also visit our website at http://www.lsuagcenter.com.