Serving Food

“Dinner is served!” More than ever, this happens in a wide variety of places, both indoors and out. But no matter where your meal is taking place . . . safety must still be the first item on the menu.

General Guidelines:
Whatever or Wherever
You’re Serving!
Keep Hot Food Hot & Cold Food Cold.
Whether you are in your kitchen or enjoying the great outdoors, there are some food safety principles that remain constant.

The first is “Keep hot food hot and cold food cold” to keep foods out of the “Danger Zone.”

• Keep Everything Clean. It’s a fact that bacteria from raw meat and poultry products can easily spread to other foods by hands, utensils, or by juices dripping from packages.
When transporting raw meat or poultry, double-wrap or place the packages in plastic bags to prevent juices from the raw product from dripping on other foods.
Always wash your hands before and after handling food, and don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry unless you wash them first.
Soap and water are essential to cleanliness, so if you are going somewhere that will not have running water, bring it with you or have disposable wipes on hand.

Remember the 2-Hour Rule:
Perishable food should never be left in the “Danger Zone” —between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C)—for more than2 hours. This includes both hot food and cold food. If it’s been more than2 hours (or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F/32.2 °C), discard the food.

• Be Cool: If you are traveling with coldfood, bring a cooler with a cold source.
It is difficult to keep food hot without aheat source when traveling, so it’s bestto cook food before leaving home andrefrigerate and transport cold.

Serving Food Safely

Buffets . . . Cooking for Groups
Food sitting out for extended periods oftime is a recipe for potential disaster. In
addition to the basics for temperature and cleanliness, follow these guidelines when cooking for and/or serving groups:
Safe Advance Prep: If you’re getting ready ahead of time, be sure to cook food thoroughly to safe minimum internal temperatures.

Divide cooked food into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving.
This encourages rapid, even cooling.
Reheat hot food to 165 °F (73.9 °C) and maintain at a safe temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) or above.
Don’t risk cross-contamination:place cold food on clean platters.
Arrange on several small platters rather than on one large platter,and keep all platters cold in therefrigerator until serving time.
Remember the “Temperature Rules”:
Keep hot food hot (140 °F/60 °Cor above) with chafing dishes, slowcookers, and warming trays. Cold food should be held at 40 °F (4.44 °C) or below, so keep food cold by nesting
dishes in beds of ice. Or use a series of small serving trays and replace them often.
Replace empty platters—don’t refill them.

Discard food that has been sitting out and may have been handled by many people.
• 2-Hour Rule: As always, perishable food should not be left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature—1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 °C).

Be sure to keep this in mind as the party rocks on—and when in doubt, throw it out.

Remember the temperature Rules
Keep hot food hot at 140 °F (60 °C) or above
Keep cold food cold at 40 °F (4.44 °C) or below

Take-Out and Delivered Food
With take-out or delivered food, thecook gets to take a shortcut with mealpreparation, but not with food safety.
Basic guidelines still apply.
Hot Take-Out or Delivered Food
• Hot Food Hot . . . Hot food must be kept out of the “Danger Zone”  and that means just keeping it warm is not enough.
If you aren’t going to eat it right away, use a food thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the food, and don’t let it drop below 140 °F (60 °C). A preheated oven, chafing dishes, preheated warming trays, or slow cookers maybe used to keep food hot.
If you plan to eat at a later time, take-out or delivered food should be divided into smaller portions or pieces, placed in shallow containers, and refrigerated.
Reheat to 165 °F (73.9 °C) as you would any leftover.

Cold/Refrigerated Take-Out or Delivered Food
Cold food should be kept at 40 °F (4.44 °C) or below. Refrigerate perishable food as soon as possible, always within 2 hours after purchase or delivery.
If the food is in air temperatures above 90 °F (32.2 °C), refrigerate within 1 hour.
When take-out or delivered food is purchased cold for an outdoor event—like a picnic, sporting event, or outdoor buffet—a cooler with ice is a practical alternative to refrigerator. The cooler should be packed with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Keep the cooler in the shade when possible.

• Refrigerate within 2 hours
1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F (32.2 °C)
• Use within 3 to 4 days
• Reheat to 165 °F (73.9 °C) using a food thermometer