Four food safety guests to invite to your party

Follow four basic food safety rules to keep the uninvited foodborne illness from crashing your holiday party.

No one likes uninvited guests, especially bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. The holidays are a time for entertaining and food is usually part of celebration. Foods left out for long periods of time can be an ideal setting for bacteria to multiply. Incorporate these food safety tips from Michigan State University Extension into your kitchen holiday traditions.

Keep everything clean that comes into contact with food. Wash hands often, especially after handling raw meats. Clean and sanitize kitchen counters and cutting boards. Use clean dish towels, hand towels, dishes and utensils.

There are four basic food safety steps to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness:

  1. Clean
  2. Separate
  3. Cook
  4. Chill

MSU Extension recommends practicing these steps when preparing dinners and buffets. This will ensure a safe, bacteria free holiday.

Clean: Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean. Clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces.

Separate: Always serve food on clean plates. Never put cooked food on plates that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from fruits and vegetables, so juices will not cross contaminate.

Cook: Cook foods thoroughly to safe temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria. An instant read thermometer can check the temperature of foods at the end of cooking. These instant read thermometers cannot go in the oven while the food is cooking. Standard meat thermometers are metal and can go in the oven while the food is cooking.

Chill: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot food should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and cold foods should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Do not let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. Promptly refrigerate and store all leftovers in small, shallow containers. If you do not plan to eat the leftovers within three to four days – freeze.

Keep your holiday parties fun, healthy and safe by following these four food safety practices. Remember “when in doubt, throw it out.”

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