Safely serving at parties

Keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot can make a fun party more of a success.

This is the time of year when many parties take place outside. This is also the time of year when the weather starts heating up and that can create many issues. Food safety needs to be considered when placing foods outside in the heat for long periods of time.

The danger zone (41 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) is where bacteria and microorganisms grow at their best. Time also plays a factor, as well as the temperature of the day. On a hot day, (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) the time that food items are on a buffet should be shortened to one hour. When temperatures are less that 90 degrees Fahrenheit the usual two hour window can remain.

Michigan State University Extension recommends keeping salads and other cold foods on ice. This will help maintain the temperature zone that is needed, below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Other ways that can help keep cold foods cold are placing foods in small serving bowls. When setting items out for a buffet line, have small amounts available at a time, this helps maintain freshness. Stir and refill foods often to keep them cold throughout and maintain freshness.

Keeping foods hot, above 140 degrees Fahrenheit is just as important. Meats, beans and other hot foods should be served in small containers that are insulated to maintain heat for hot holding. Change foods often in the buffet line. Keep in mind that the same rules apply for hot food items as they do for cold food items.

This may sound repetitive, but a wonderful party can quickly change into a sickening party if time and temperatures are not watched. Be kind to your guests; keep track of time and temperature so the people in the back of the line will enjoy the flavor as much as those in the beginning.

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