Food safety at Rose Bowl parties

When serving food, it is important to think of food safety to prevent foodborne illness.

I am having a small group of friends over to watch the Rose Bowl football game. Everyone is bringing a dish to share. I don’t need to worry about food safety do I? Wrong! Foodborne illness pathogens never take a vacation, so neither should you when it comes to serving safe food. Whether the event is a small intimate affair or a large party, food safety should be top priority. The guests should have pleasant memories of the event, not a memory of how sick they got from eating at the party.

Michigan State University Extension recommends four key words to keep in mind for food safety. Those words are: Clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean means washing hands before starting food preparation, washing them anytime the hands touch raw meat, poultry or fish, and washing hands anytime the hands touch something other than food. To properly wash the hands, use running water about 100 degrees Fahrenheit to wet the hands. Next, use soap and create a lather. Wash hands, in between the fingers and up the arms. The third step is to rinse in running water. The process of washing hands should take a minimum of 20 seconds. The last step is to dry the hands with a disposable paper towel. Never wipe hands on a common towel or clothing because that just re-contaminates the hands. Hands should be washed before and after preparing food, after using the bathroom and changing diapers, after touching animals, after smoking or chewing tobacco.

All food preparation surfaces, equipment and utensils should be washed, rinsed and sanitized before preparing food. A good sanitizing solution is one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of water.

The second word to remember is separate. This means keep raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs from cross-contaminating ready to eat foods. Use one cutting board for raw meats and a different cutting board for fruits and vegetables. This will prevent cross-contamination from occurring.

The third word is cook. All cooked foods need to be cooked to a minimum internal cooking temperature to destroy potential foodborne illness pathogens. Use a cooking thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the cooked foods. All microwaved foods should reach a minimum internal cooking temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The last word to remember is chill. Food needs to be chilled within two hours of being cooked or foodborne illness bacteria may grow. Foodborne bacteria love the temperature danger zone of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Some pathogens can even double in numbers every twenty minutes at these temperatures. So when having a get together it is important to keep hot foods hot, above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold foods cold, below 40 degree Fahrenheit. The maximum time that foods should be out on a party buffet table is two hours.

A good idea is to serve the foods on the buffet table in small quantities. With the food in small quantities, it will be consumed before the two hours is up. Or if the two hours expires, new foods can be put out to be consumed. The foods that reached the expiration time should be disposed of to avoid having an issue with foodborne illness.

Remember the four words: Clean, separate, cook and chill to keep food at the Rose Bowl football party safe. The guests should have memories of what a good time they had watching the Rose Bowl, not a memory of being sick days later.

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