Each year millions of people celebrate Independence Day. Unfortunately, many end up sick during the celebrations because food was not handled or stored properly. These food safety tips are given to refresh your memory and help you keep everyone safe and happy through the holiday.
Remember to keep hot foods hot. If foods are to be served hot, you will need to ensure it remains at the appropriate temperature. You can do this by using the following methods:
- Food warmers can be purchased or rented. The serving pans are held above sterno fuel which keeps the food warm. All serving pans should have lids to ensure the food is kept at the proper temperature.
- Use a large cooler to keep foods warm. Instead of using ice to cool the food, take three or four common building bricks, wrap them in aluminum foil and heat them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.
Once they have reached temperature, carefully remove the bricks and place them on pieces of cardboard in the bottom of the cooler. Cover the bricks with another piece of cardboard and then place the hot food on top of the bricks to keep them warm. You may also want to use towels to stabilize the dishes.
- Use two grills. If you plan on grilling food for the day, use one grill to cook the food and the other as a holding grill. This will enable you to set the temperature low and place cooked foods inside to help keep them warm.
Reaching for the other end of the thermometer, cold foods must be kept cold. Families often prepare potato or other salads made with eggs or mayonnaise. While these foods are wonderful, if they are not kept cold they can quickly begin to harbor bacteria which will make people sick. Here are a few ideas for keeping things cool.
- Use large coolers with plenty of ice. If possible keep the cooler indoors or at least in the shade so the ice does not melt too quickly.
- Rather than putting everything on the serving table at once, use a smaller serving dish and refill it as needed. This will keep the majority of the food on ice and therefore stop bacteria from forming.
- Pack your cooler in the opposite way you will take foods out. In other words, if you know you have something that will be needed right away, place that food at the top of the cooler. Foods which will not be needed until later can be kept cool in the cooler.
- If you’re planning to grill away from home, keep raw meats in a separate cooler. You can purchase a Styrofoam cooler for just a few dollars if you don’t have an extra one handy.
- Keep beverages and ice for beverages in a separate cooler. The cooler with drinks will be opened many more times than one with food. This will help foods stay cold longer.
Nothing is worse than cutting a celebration short due to illness. If you do not have a way to keep certain foods hot or cold, simply choose different dishes to take with you.
These food safety tips will help ensure your food is safe. When you know your food is safe to eat, you will be able to enjoy the time you spend with family and friends while social distancing of course!