Food safety should be your most important buffet guest

Planning a holiday buffet? Keep food safety practices in check as the most important guest.

As the holidays quickly approach, it’s a good time to prepare food safety practices as part of the holiday plan. If you are planning a buffet at home and are not sure of the pace that the food will be consumed, keep buffet serving portions small, reducing the amount of food exposed to room temperature.

Here are some examples that can help keep food safe:

  • Prepare a number of small platters and dishes ahead of time, and replace the serving dish with the fresh ones throughout the party.
  • Store cold back-up dishes in the refrigerator, or keep hot dishes in the oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit prior to serving. This way guests arriving late can enjoy the same appetizing arrangements as the early guests.

 Another important aspect is to note the temperature of the dishes on the table. With varied dishes and various degrees of safe temperature ranges it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. It is important to take the temperature of these foods as guests begin eating the food. A table with many different dishes with varied temperatures will require that you use a food thermometer to monitor. Serve or keep food hot in chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays.

Michigan State University Extension reminds consumers to check to see that these food warmers have the capability to hold foods at 140 degree Fahrenheit or warmer. This is the temperature that’s required to keep bacteria at bay. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Keep cold foods refrigerated until serving time.

Another food safety idea is if food is going to stay out on the buffet table longer than two hours, that you place serving dishes of cold food on ice to retain the chill. Remember not to add new food to an already filled serving dish. Instead, replace nearly empty serving dishes with freshly filled ones. Be aware that during the course of the party, bacteria from people’s hands can contaminate the food. Plus, bacteria can multiply at room temperature.

Finally, remember the two hour rule: Discard any perishables left out at room temperature for more than two hours, unless you’re keeping it hot or cold (ideas suggested above).

Following these food safety guidelines will insure that you and your guests can enjoy the holidays, free from the worry of foodborne illness.

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