It’s the season to gather around the table with loved ones, neighbours and co-workers to celebrate the holidays.
If you’re planning a festive buffet, here are 5 food safety tips by the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) to help ensure a healthy, happy time for your guests.
5 Food Safety Tips for a Holiday Buffet
1. Keep a Clean Scene
Before cooking and after handling raw ingredients such as meat, poultry, eggs and flour, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
It sounds simple but recent USDA research found that 97% of people are failing to wash their hands properly.
Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter-tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
2. Thaw foods safely
3. Keep hot foods hot
Place hot foods in chafing dishes, crock pots or warming trays at 140 °F or warmer. Bacteria can multiple rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F.
Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature and ensure food is being held at 140 °F or higher on your buffet,
4. Keep cold foods cold
During your event, arrange and serve perishable foods on several small platters. Put one platter on the buffet table and store the other platters in the fridge.
Swap them out every two hours. Nest platters in bowls of ice on the buffet table.
5. Handle leftovers safely
Divide large portions of leftovers like beef, turkey, gravy, dressing, stews and casseroles into smaller portions in shallow containers. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
A constant home refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Use an appliance thermometer to be sure your refrigerator temperature is at 40 °F or below. Eat leftovers within 3-4 days.