As many of us will be traveling with food for different get-togethers this holiday season, it is important to take precautions to protect your family and friends from foodborne illness. NSF International, has developed the tips below to help make sure that food poisoning doesn’t join your party as an unwelcome guest.
Tip #1: Store and transport perishable foods properly.
Put perishable foods such as fruits and salads in individual containers and place them on the bottom of the cooler with ice packs on top. Transport uncooked meats in a separate cooler from ready-to-eat foods, as this prevents cross contamination.
Tip #2: Carry the cooler in the trunk of your vehicle.
Even though it’s cold outside, you should still use a cooler to keep foods at the right temperature and to prevent germs from spreading. If you can, store the cooler in your trunk as that is a colder area – make sure to pack the cooler with extra ice packs if you choose to travel with it inside the car, as you will most likely have your heat on.
Tip #3: Avoid taking dishes to a party that contain uncooked or unpasteurized eggs.
If you plan on making a dish that contains a homemade salad dressing or mayonnaise, use pasteurized eggs or egg products to make these items. Food items containing properly prepared homemade or store-bought mayonnaise need to be kept cold until just before serving.
Tip #4: Don’t prepare food more than one day before your event, unless it is to be frozen.
Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Be sure to reheat pre-cooked foods to at least 165º F before serving.
Tip #5: When bringing and storing appetizers, remember the 1-hour rule.
Appetizers often contain perishable foods, such as cheeses and fruits. Perishable foods should be returned to a refrigerator or cooler if not eaten within two hours. The longer that food has sat out, the more likely harmful bacteria have grown, for this reason the safest option is to throw out leftover appetizers.
Tip #6: Wash hands before eating or handling food.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or handling food. If there’s no source of clean water, bring soap, water and paper.