Holiday Food Safety

Many people celebrate with family, friends, and coworkers during the holidays and food is usually a significant part of those celebrations. Remember these simple food safety tips during the holidays.

  • Wash hands. Proper hand washing is the most effective way to keep food and guests safe. Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water following restroom use, after handling raw meat products or before eating. Clean hands help prevent the spread of potential illness-causing microorganisms.
  • Keep it small. If you're planning a buffet and are not sure how quickly the food will be eaten, keep portions small. Prepare a number of small platters and dishes ahead of time. Consider storing cold dishes in the refrigerator and keep hot dishes in the oven (200°F to 250°F) prior to serving.
  • Take temperatures. Cooked, hot foods should be kept at 140°F or warmer. Be sure to use a food thermometer (the only safe way to ensure proper temperature) to check temperatures.
  • Keep it cold. Cold foods should be kept at 40°F or less. Keep cold foods refrigerated until just before serving. If food is going to stay out on the buffet table longer than two hours, place plates of cold food on ice to retain the chill.
  • Keep it fresh. It can be unsafe to add new food to a serving dish that already has been used. Many people's hands may have touched the food, which has been sitting at room temperature. Replace empty platters with freshly filled ones. Filling food containers frequently helps keep food at proper temperatures.
  • Watch the clock. Remember the "Two-Hour Rule": Don't leave perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours.