Remember food safety this holiday season
Keep these food safety tips in mind when preparing holiday meals and leftovers.
Holidays are a great way to come together with family and friends, but the invitation should not include illness causing bacteria. Keeping foods safe during this hectic season can be challenging, whether you are traveling with food or preparing it at home.
Perishable foods, such as meats, cooked vegetables, dairy products, casseroles, if kept at room temperature for two or more hours may contaminate food with bacteria and cause illness. To decrease the risk of foodborne illness Michigan State University Extension suggests keeping cold foods at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods at 140 degrees F or above will keep food out of the “danger zone” of 40 and 140 degrees F.
Don’t forget the leftovers! It is important to refrigerate them promptly and reheat properly. You cannot see or smell harmful bacteria if it has started to grow on your refrigerated foods or leftovers.
Here are a few steps to safely store and reheat leftover food:
- Divide large quantities of food into smaller containers for faster cool down and store in a 40 degree F refrigerator or freeze within two hours of cooking.
- Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days and frozen leftovers within four months.
- Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F, always using a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
- Thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator or microwave.
- It is safe to reheat leftovers from a frozen state, either in a saucepan or microwave. Reheating will take longer than if the food is thawed.