Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

first_imgWhen planning a holiday celebration this season it is importantto follow a few simple food safety tips to ensure a safe andenjoyable time. Food safety experts at the Department of Agriculture andFisheries remind people planning holiday parties and potlucks touse good food-safety practices when preparing, transporting andre-heating foods. “We want people to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest,” saidMike Horwich, provincial manager food safety. “Taking theappropriate steps to ensure food safety is one way to help makeyour holiday season healthy and enjoyable” Plan ahead for holiday food preparation: Sweets and breads can be prepared the day before the party and do not require refrigeration; Other foods, such as casseroles, can be prepared in advance if they are cooled or frozen quickly. Large volumes of food can be cooled faster by putting it in shallow dishes. Large containers of hot food can be placed in a container of ice or cold water for rapid cooling; Meats and poultry that are cooked one or two days before serving should be sliced while still hot and placed in shallow pans, no more than two inches deep and then put into the refrigerator to cool. Do not fully cover the food until it has reached 4 C (40 F). Serving safe food over the holidays: Preparing and cooking food: Reheating food: Always wash your hands before preparing food; When preparing food ahead of time, cook to a safe internal temperature; Keep raw meats separate from cooked and ready to eat foods to prevent contamination; Refrigerate cut or peeled fruit as bacteria is able to grow on the cut surface; Cooked vegetables must be kept hot or cold; Wash all raw produce under running water using your hands or a produce brush; Clean and sanitize all work surfaces that have come in contact with raw meats. One to two teaspoons of household bleach in one litre of water can be used as a sanitizer. Saving leftovers: Cooked foods that are to be re-heated, or leftovers, must be re-heated to at least 74 C (165 F). The temperature should be checked using a meat thermometer; Soups, sauces and gravies should be re-heated to a rolling boil. Make room in your refrigerator for the additional food being brought by your guests. Try not to overload the refrigerator as the cold air must be able to circulate in order to keep the food cold. If you are running out of room some foods can be taken out and left at room temperature. These foods include uncut fruits and vegetables, jams, condiments such as mustard and pickles, and beverages other than milk. Insulated coolers containing ice or ice packs can be used to keep food cold as well; Hot foods brought by guests should either be kept hot in the oven at 60 C (140 F) or served shortly after their arrival; Be sure that raw meats or poultry are stored in sealed, leak- proof containers on the lowest rack to avoid the risk of contamination with the cooked or ready-to-eat foods. For more information about food safety and food handling tips,visit the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website atwww.gov.ns.ca/nsaf or call 902-424-1173. Hot foods must be kept at or above 60 C (140 F) and cold foods kept at or below 4 C (40 F) when being served; Food should not remain in the temperature danger zone between 4 C and 60 C (40 F and 160 F) for longer than two hours. If the food is to be left out for more than two hours, or the room in which it is being served becomes very warm, the food can be kept hot by using crock pots or warming trays or kept cold by using ice or ice packs around the dish; Label the sauces and dressings in order to discourage tasting; Provide tongs and long handled ladles to prevent guests from touching food with their hands or dirty utensils; Do not leave perishable finger foods like soft cheeses, dips or spreads at room temperature for too long. Divide into small portions and replenish as required. If perishable food has been in the danger zone for less than two hours it can be quickly cooled then refrigerated or taken home by the guests; When taking leftovers home use ice packs or insulated containers or wraps to maintain the temperature at 4 C (40 F) or lower. The day of the party:last_img read more