Now that Indiana has moved into Stage 5 of the “Back on Track Indiana” plan, and group sizes are not limited, the potential for group gatherings that include food could be on the increase.
A gathering of friends and family is fun, but we still need to be cautious and follow food safety rules.
Follow these steps to keep food-borne germs from spoiling your part.
Keep it clean
• Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 30 seconds before preparing, eating, or handling food. Wash your hands after using the bathroom and touching pets.
• Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water afer preparing each food item.
Separate raw meat from other foods
• Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from foods that won’t be cooked before eating such as fruit, salad greens, deli salads, and bread.
• Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for fresh fruits and vegetables and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
• Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods when shopping for groceries and when storing in the refrigerator.
Cook to a safe temperature
• Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a temperature hot enough to kill germs that could make you sick.
• Follow recommended microwave cooking s standing times.
• Cold spots – areas that are not completely cooked – can provide a hiding place for germs. For this reason, always follow cooking instructions and directions for standing time – the extra minutes food should rest to finish cooking.
Serve foods safely
• If preparing food in advance, divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in a refrigerator or freezer. This encourages rapid, even cooling.
• Keep hot foods hot, at 140oF or warmer. Use slow cookers, chafing dishes, and warming trays to keep food hot on the buffet table.
• For picnics and other outdoor meals, keep cold food in a cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs until just before serving. Catering or getting food delivered? Make sure food that is catered or delivered stays at a safe temperature.
The ‘Two-Hour Rule’
• Throw away any perishable foods that have been out at room temperature for two hours or more.
• Toss them after 1 hour if they’ve been sitting out at temperatures of 90oF or hotter, such as food served at a picnic or outdoor family reunion.
Store and reheat leftovers the right way
• Divide leftovers into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate or freeze.
• Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40oF or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. It’s OK to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator.
• Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165oF before serving. This includes leftovers warmed up in the microwave.