Keep holiday buffets bacteria-free

Serving large quantities of food takes a bit of planning to keep it safe.

What makes a safe food event? Are you planning on serving food to friends and family in the next few weeks, besides the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner? It is a good idea to plan out how you will be serving your larger meals. Will you be doing a family style meal or perhaps a buffet style meal? Do you have enough room in your refrigerator to store the food you plan to prep? Are others bringing food? Many of these questions are not complicated, just involve a bit of logistics to put into action to make sure your get-togethers are done in a safe manner.

Tips to keep your buffet to be bacteria-free

Keep the serving dishes small.

Prepare several smaller platters and dishes ahead of time to ensure freshness. Replace these dishes throughout your event, making sure to put a fresh dish out and replace the one that had been sitting out.

Store cold back-up dishes in the fridge and keep hot dishes warm in the oven. This way all your guests will enjoy delicious “safe” food regardless of when they arrive.

Mind food temperatures

Utilize a food thermometer to make sure your hot food is hot. Keep the food hot by using chafing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays.

Do not heat your hot foods in chafing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays – food needs to be hot before using these to keep it warm.

Keep cold foods chilled

should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

Don’t take cold foods out of the fridge until serving time.

If your buffet will last longer than 2 hours, utilize ice, frozen gel packs or other cooling devices to keep food cold.

Keep it food fresh

Never add new food to an already filled serving dish.

Replace nearly empty dishes with fresh filled dishes.

Watch for potential cross-contamination problems, where hands contaminate food or tongs may get dropped and replaced on the serving dish.

Watch the clock

Remember the 2-hour rule.

Perishables should be discarded after two hours if left out at room temperature (one hour if the temperature is above 90 F).

Leftovers have their own special rules as well, and need to be refrigerated within two hours.

Michigan State University Extension encourages consumers to follow food safety guidelines every day. Easy steps can prevent an unwelcome foodborne illness

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