food safety for celebrations
Serving Food Outdoors
- When transporting food, keep perishables in a cooler with ice or freezer packs until serving time. Make sure food is cold before it goes in the cooler.
- Eliminate the need to store and transport leftovers by packing just the amount of perishable foods that will be eaten.
- Transport the cooler in an air-conditioned car instead of a hot trunk. At the site, keep the cooler in the shade and open it as little as possible.
- Never leave foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the air temperature is over 90°F, perishable foods should be left out no longer than 1 hour.
- If you purchase a large quantity of take-out food, such as fried chicken or barbecued beef, plan on eating the food within 2 hours of pickup. Otherwise, buy the food in advance, refrigerate and reheat just before serving.
- Keep desserts made with whipped topping, cream cheese or dairy products refrigerated until ready to serve. Store leftovers in a refrigerator or cooler.
- When preparing food outdoors away from home, bring a jug of water, soap and paper towels for washing hands in addition to a hand sanitizer.
- To keep foods appetizing, set out smaller platters and replenish them each hour or as needed. This also helps keep foods at safe serving temperatures.
- Make sure hot foods are kept at 140°F or warmer. Use a chafing dish or warming tray.
- Keep cold foods on ice or replace often to maintain a temperature of 45°F or colder.
- Never leave foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- When refilling empty platters of meat- or dairy-based foods, replace or wash the serving platter. Residual food particles that have been sitting at room temperature may contaminate the fresh food.
- Leave ready-to-eat foods containing eggs, meat and dairy products in the refrigerator until you serve them. This includes cream pies and cakes frosted with cream cheese or whipped topping.
- If you know that guests will be delayed, reserve some of the temperature-sensitive foods to serve when they arrive. Hold the hot foods in the oven and the cold foods in the refrigerator.
- When serving dips or dipping sauces, place a spoon near the serving bowl to discourage “double dipping.” This can help prevent contamination.
Find more safety tips for Holiday Foods.
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