Prepare, store, handle holiday foods for enjoyment and safety
(Tarrant County, Texas) … November is here and soon there will be holiday dining with family and friends. Tarrant County Public Health provides these guidelines to help keep holiday meals free of potentially harmful bacteria.
Store and prepare food safely. Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of shopping or preparing. Use separate preparation areas for raw and cooked foods. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and work surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets.
Harmful bacteria are destroyed when food is cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles and other foods. Check the temperature in several places to be sure that the food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. Never partially cook food for finishing later because that increases the risk of bacterial growth.
Transport food safely; keep it in the safe-temperature zone. Keep hot food items at or above 140 degrees. Wrap it well and place it in an insulated container or place cooked food in chafing dishes, warming trays or slow cookers. Keep cold food cold — at or below 40 degrees. Place it in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs.
Food should be hot and steamy for serving. Use the stove, oven or microwave to reheat food to 165 degrees. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil.
When in doubt, throw it out! Discard food left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze it immediately.
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