Food Safety for Holiday Gatherings | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Even the most delicious holiday foods can become dangerous if mishandled.  This season, if you’re transporting homemade foods to a family gathering, or planning to prepare food in someone else’s kitchen, follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A) to help ensure that your gathering isn’t spoiled by foodborne illness:

·         Plan ahead. Make sure the location meets your needs:

o   Be sure you have enough oven, stovetop, refrigerator, and work space.

o   Find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning.

·         Store and prepare food safely:

o   Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or preparing.

o   Find separate preparation areas in the work space for raw and cooked food.

o   Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food.

o   Wash hands, cutting boards, dishes, utensils and work surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water.

·         Cook food to safe internal temperatures:

o   Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other food. Check temperature in several places to be sure the food is safely cooked.

o   Never partially cook food for finishing later, because you increase the risk of bacterial growth.

·         Transport food safely – Keep hot food HOT, and cold food COLD:

o   Keep cold food at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Place in a cooler with a cold source such as ice or commercial freezing gels.

o   Keep hot food at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap well and place in an insulated container.

·         Need to reheat? Food must be hot and steamy for serving. Just “warmed up” is not good enough:

o   Use the stove, oven or microwave to reheat food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil.

·         Keep food out of the “danger zone” (40 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit):

o   Keep hot food hot – at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, pre-heated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.

o   Keep cold food cold – at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Place food in containers on ice. 

·         When in doubt, throw it out! 

o   Discard food left at room temperatures for more than 2 hours. 

o   Place leftovers in shallow containers. Refrigerate or freeze immediately.”

Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

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