Food safety tips for parties and social gatherings

Whether friends and family are coming over to watch the big game, for a reunion, or to celebrate a significant milestone, there will undoubtedly be lots of food. Most of that food is usually homemade either by the host or the guests. Quite frequently, there is too much food for the party itself so leftovers will abound. What’s the best way to practice good food safety, to protect those leftovers and the people consuming them?

The first step is to put away leftover food within a timely manner. Party food such as deviled eggs, chicken nuggets, and pizza tends to be left sitting on a counter until all the guests have left. However, perishable foods left out for more than two hours can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Preparing Safe Food Starts with Understanding Food Borne Pathogens

Bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella, e. coli,  and listeria love temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, and will grow rapidly if they are in this temperature environment for more than two hours. After that point, perishable food items should be divided up for future consumption, placed in a container, and then either refrigerated or frozen for future use. Generally, refrigerated leftovers will keep for about three to four days.  Just remember, freezing foods doe s not kill the bacteria if it has already begun to grow.

When reheating the leftovers for a meal or snack later in the week, they should always be heated to an internal temperature of 165oF for food safety purposes. Cooking the food sufficiently will help eliminate potential bacteria contamination. When reheating leftovers in the microwave, it is best to use a turntable to ensure the food is heated thoroughly throughout.

The best way to reheat leftover sauces and soups is to bring them to a rolling boil. Slow cookers should not be used for reheating. Cooking the food on a stove, in the microwave, or in a conventional oven can help ensure it reaches the internal temperature of 165oF that is so important for food safety.

For more information about food safety, Preparing Safe Food, or a recent food borne illness outbreak, please contact the food poisoning lawyers at 1-888-335-4901.