By Kaila Stencil, Kewaunee County UW-Extension Foodwise Nutrition Educator
As we welcome the holiday season we also welcome an abundance of great food at gatherings with family and friends. Food safety is probably not the first thing you think about when planning your holiday meal. However, if we forget to keep food safety in mind, our holiday gathering may be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Food safety is a concern during all times of the year but can be a particular concern during the holiday season when foods are being left out for extended periods of time while guests graze over spread of delicious snacks. Take the proper steps to protect your guests from food borne illness.
Let’s take a look at three common food safety questions:
How can I safely transport foods to family gatherings?
The best thing to remember is to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Use crock pots to keep things hot and ice trays to keep things cold. Hot items should remain above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold items should remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
How long can foods be kept out of the refrigerator?
Leaving food out for too long is one of the biggest holiday food safety problems. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of preparation. Keeping foods out for longer than two hours allows bacteria to grow at a rapid rate.
What is the best way to thaw meat?
There are three safe ways to thaw meat. The first option is to thaw in the refrigerator. Remember to place meat in a container to catch any juices. The second option is to thaw in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes. Lastly, meat can be thawed via microwave. Never thaw meat on the counter as it will become unsafe for consumption.
Keep the holidays happy. The last thing we want to do is pass on food borne illness