Food tips for a New Year's Eve celebration

Remember: Clean, separate, cook and chill to avoid foodborne illnesses

Planning a New Year’s Eve Celebration? Food safety should not be a concern because everyone is bringing finger foods, Right? Wrong! Whether it is a small intimate affair or a large dinner party, foodborne illness bugs do not take a vacation and neither should you. Guests should have fond memories of the fun and fellowship they had and not remember how sick they got from the food they ate at the party.

Michigan State University Extension recommends to remember these four words: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean means washing hands before starting any food preparation, before and after touching any raw meat, fish poultry, or seafood and touching anything besides food that might get the hands contaminated. Clean also means washing, rinsing and sanitizing all food preparation surfaces, utensils, cutting boards and equipment used in food preparation. A good sanitizing solution is one tablespoon to one gallon of water.

To properly wash hands, use running water about 100 degrees Fahrenheit to wet the hands. Next lather up using soap, washing hands, scrubbing between the fingers, and up the arms. Rinse with running water. The final step is to dry the hands with a disposable paper towel. The whole process should take about 20 seconds.

Never wipe hands on a common cloth towel or apron because this will contaminate the hands.

Hands should be washed after using the bathroom, changing diapers, touching animals, before and after preparing food, smoking, and chewing tobacco.

To prevent cross-contamination remember separate. Prevent eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood from touching ready to eat foods, such as cooked foods and washed raw fruits and vegetables. Use one cutting board for raw meat, fish, poultry, and seafood and a different one for raw fruits and vegetables. If that is not possible the cutting board and knife need to be washed, rinsed, and sanitized between each food product.

Cook is the third word to remember. Cook all foods to the minimum internal cooking temperature to kill the food borne illness pathogens. Use a cooking thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the foods. All microwaved foods need to reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

The last word is chill. All cooked food needs to be chilled within two hours of cooking to prevent food borne illness pathogens from growing. Food borne illness pathogens love the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140 F. Some bacteria double their numbers every twenty minutes when food is in the temperature danger zone.

When having a get together around food, the maximum amount of time foods should be out without temperature controls is two hours. If food is prepared in smaller quantities, it can be rotated on the buffet to help cut down on the time food is sitting without temperature controls. If the food has been out for two hours without temperature control, the food should be thrown away and new food put out on the buffet.

Remember the words: clean, separate, cook and chill to keep the food safe at your New Year’s eve party. The guests should have memories of what fun they had at the party, instead of how sick they got later.

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