Foodborne illness does not take a holiday

Planning a New Year’s Eve party? Don’t let food safety take a backseat to the celebration.

Planning a New Year’s Eve party can be lots of fun. It can be a time where family and friends get together to celebrate the coming of a new year. Since foodborne illness bacteria do not take a holiday, a wise party planner will keep the following tips in mind.

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! When food is left at room temperature for any length of time, foodborne illness bacteria can double every 20 minutes. Hot foods should be held above 140 degrees Fahrenheit in chafing dishes or slow cookers. Keep cold foods cold, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit by nestling the dishes in beds of ice.
  • Be wise – use the two hour rule! If perishable food is left at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria can grow and make someone sick spoiling their party. If you are not sure how long the coleslaw has been sitting out, remember the rule, “When in doubt – throw it out!”

Michigan State University Extension recommends these “do’s” and “don’ts” of favorite party foods. Here are some tips to keep in mind when serving the holiday favorites:

  • Eggnog is delicious and creamy, but Salmonella could be lurking in the drink if raw eggs are used.
    • Do: Use only pasteurized eggs or egg products in the egg base.
    • Do: Heat the egg base to 160 degrees Fahrenheit because pasteurization is the only way to kill the bacteria.
    • Don’t rely on alcohol to kill the bacteria! Rum or alcohol may kill some of the bacteria, but it will not kill all! Don’t play Russian roulette with this holiday favorite!
  • Ham, whether it is glazed or in a salad needs to be cared for.
    • Do: Read the label. Some hams are ready to eat, while others need to be cooked. Cooking instructions will be on the ham label.
    • Do: Store the ham in the refrigerator. Use ham slices within four days and a whole ham within a week.
    • Do: Cook the ham to a safe temperature.
  • Deli meats or cold cuts can harbor Listeria, which is dangerous to pregnant women and the unborn babies.
    • Do: Avoid deli meats if you are pregnant.
    • Do: Store deli meats in the refrigerator until just prior to serving. Deli meats need to be used within three to five days of the purchase date.
    • Do: Keep deli meat fluids away from other foods and from the food preparation surfaces. If there is a mess, clean it up by washing with hot, soapy water, then rinse the surface and sanitize the area.

By carefully planning the New Year’s Eve menu with food safety in mind, you and your guests will have a good time celebrating. Your guests will be grateful for your thoughtfulness and avoiding those uninvited guests – foodborne bacteria.

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