Lesley Price, RD, CD
Football season is here and so are the game day celebrations. I think I just heard a “GO HAWKS”! Football is one of the many great reasons to gather with friends and family and share delicious food. To help you plan out your game day festivities, here are some food safety tips.
At the grocery store: Put raw meat and poultry in separate plastic bags to prevent juices from dripping on other foods, and separate from produce and ready-to-eat foods in your grocery cart. Make sure raw meat and poultry are bagged separately at checkout – most baggers are not aware of this and need to be asked. If you use reusable bags, wash them in hot water frequently. You have a two hour window (1 hour if it is over 90 degrees outside) to get perishable foods home and into the refrigerator or freezer, so make sure the grocery store is your last stop before home.
At home: Keep your raw meat and poultry in plastic bags and keep it separate from produce in your refrigerator. Be sure to wash your hands before preparing foods for your party. Wash all surfaces (cutting boards, counter tops, utensils) before and after processing your foods. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and poultry as well as produce and ready to eat foods, or wash the cutting board between uses. Wash fruits and vegetables under cold running water – do not wash meat, poultry or eggs. Perishable food can only be out two hours before needing refrigeration, so do your preparation in stages if needed. Cook all foods to proper temperatures use food thermometer to check. Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter.
Transporting to the party: When transporting hot food make sure your destination is within a two hour window. Pack all cold foods in ice and make sure it stays 40 degrees or less.
At the party: Reheat all hot food to 165 degrees prior to serving and keep hot foods above 135 degrees. Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold is the best way to keep bacteria that could make you sick from growing in your food. Hot food should be kept above 135 degrees, while cold food should be kept at 41 degrees or below. If you cannot keep food hot or cold, then make sure it is eaten within two hours, or placed back into a refrigerator. Food left out for more than two hours should be thrown away. One helpful tip is to only dish up a portion of the food, keeping the rest either hot or cold and re-stocking as needed. You can also use ice to keep things cold but the ice needs to be at least at the same level as the top of the food.
And last of all, no double dipping. Not only does it give off the “ick factor”, it can spread illness to those you love.
By following this advice you can take memories of football game victories (hopefully) home, not food-borne illnesses. For more information about food safety go to https://www.foodsafety.gov/