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Extension Service News: Celebrate the holidays with a safe party buffet

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By Judy Hetterman

A great way to celebrate the holidays is to invite family and friends to a special party buffet.  Keep your holiday guests safe from foodborne illness by following these buffet safety tips:
• Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.  Clean kitchen surfaces, dishes, and utensils with hot, soapy water.  Use clean plates to serve cooked food - never the ones that held the raw meat or poultry.
• Cook foods to a safe internal temperature (165°F for poultry, stuffing, and casseroles; 160°F for ground meats and egg dishes; 145°F for roasts, ham, and fish.)  Use a food thermometer to be sure.
• Avoid uncooked eggs.  If your special homemade recipes call for raw eggs, use pasteurized eggs, pasteurized egg product or cook the egg mixture on the stovetop to 160°F.  Then follow the recipe.
• Keep hot foods hot (140°F or warmer).  Use chafing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays.  If those aren’t available, divide hot foods into several smaller dishes.  Keep the extra dishes hot in the oven (at about 200-250°F) until serving.  Replace dishes every 2 hours.
• Keep cold foods cold (40°F or colder).  Nest dishes in larger bowls of ice.  If you buy party trays from a store, fill the lids with ice and use those to rest the trays on.  Rather than serving cold foods on one large platter use several smaller platters, and refrigerate until needed.  
• Do not allow perishable foods to sit at room temperature for more than two hours.  Discard anything that have.
• Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days.  Reheat solid leftovers to 165°F.  Reheat liquids to a rolling boil.
Stay food safe this holiday season.