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How to avoid bad luck at the holiday potluck

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Hopefully good tidings and good cheer this year will translate into good food and good health. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has a few food safety tips for those preparing holiday parties and potlucks:

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Tis’ the season for celebration but there is also potential for food borne illnesses, according to ODA food safety speciality Susan Kendrick:

KENDRICK:  “It’s a time of year where people are getting together for holiday parties, potlucks at work, and a time to really think about what they are bringing and how safe it’s going to be and how they are handling it.”  :10

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One of the most basic rules for this time of year is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Specifically, you want to avoid the danger zone– that temperature above 40 degress and below 135 degrees Fahrenheit:

KENDRICK:  “So using hot plates, using crockpots to keep things warm if you are at a potluck. And if you are serving something cold, to maybe put it in a dish of ice to keep it cold during the serving time or even just divide it into maybe two or three smaller dishes and put a couple of the dishes in the refrigerator, and only put a little out at a time.”  :19

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That becomes especially important since the food at parties and potlucks tends to sit out on a table for longer periods of time. Anything sitting out for more than four hours should be tossed. But with good food handling, preparation, and storage techniques, the holidays should be safe as well as enjoyable and tasty. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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KENDRICK says time and temperature are especially important during this time of year when a variety of foods are being set out on buffet tables:

“You want to hold it to a maximum of about four hours out of refrigeration. But that includes making the food as well as that serving time. If it has been out of refrigeration or out of a hot holding situation for more than four hours, you really do need to throw it away.”  :15

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KENDRICK says planning ahead is a good idea if you are brining a food to a party or potluck:

“You might check with your host or your hostess and make sure that if it is something that needs to be in the refrigerator or needs to be kept hot, that they have room for that so you are not surprising them and overloading their refrigerator.”  :11

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