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Food Safety for Home Entertaining

Serve your guests well and keep them healthy by following food safety rules

You already know the basics of food safety - wash, wash, wash. It always helps to reinforce rules, especially before planning a party during summer or the holidays.

The big ones:

-Wash hands thoroughly, before and after handling each type of food.

-Avoid cross-contamination. Use utensils only once and on only one type of food. Use the dishwasher or very hot water and detergent.

-Have several cutting boards on hand. The flexible plastic sheets can be purchased at dollar stores for this purpose.

-Keep reliable food thermometers on hand and always cook foods to the proper internal temperatures.

-Cool hot foods down quickly (in a bed of ice) before refrigerating. This is really big one. Foods that are refrigerated while still warm may not reach a low temperature fast enough to prevent bacterial growth.

-Ventilation - avoid overpacking a refrigerator. Foods need space - containers should not be stacked or crammed, which also prevents the interior portions from remaining cold enough. A home refrigeration unit is simply not designed to handle large quantities.

-Storing raw meat, fish, and poultry. When refrigerating, always double bag and place on a bottom shelf. Drips are nasty to clean up and can harbor bacteria. Be sure nothing leaks into the vegetable drawer - pull them out to check for liquid in the very bottom of the fridge as well.

-Use paper towels for cleanup. It's easy to forget which dishtowel was used for what food. Don't take changes. Clean up and toss.

-Do not use deep or large containers to refrigerate foods. Purchase shallow units for quicker cooling.

-Do not transport large cuts of cooked meat from one location to another. The host location is the only place to prepare and cook large cuts of meat. Do not volunteer to cook the turkey and drive for two hours and do not allow any volunteers to bring the meats. For traveling, a hot chicken or turkey should be carved, cooled quickly, and transported on ice.

Foods to watch out for during preparation:

Eggs - these can become a culprit in several ways. They should not be left out long in the shell. Do not crack them and use the shell as a separator; sometimes the shell surface can contain bacteria.

Poultry and seafood - it is important to wash more than utensils and cutting surfaces. Disinfect faucets, sink basins, and soap dispensers that hands might have come in contact with. Bag poultry discards separately and remove to an outdoor container. If you pitch unwrapped pieces in the kitchen trash, it has just become a breeding ground.

Ground meats - these are more likely to have developed bacteria during the grinding process.

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Pittsburg, TX 75686
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