Carlisle, Pa. — The Partnership for Food Safety Education and local food stores have teamed up to provide customers with helpful entertaining tips for upcoming holiday parties. Whether you’re planning a bountiful buffet, keeping it simple with party platters or preparing a turkey feast — safe food-handling is a must. Always follow the basics of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill to help ensure that one uninvited guest will not ruin your party — bacteria! Include food safety in your party plans and keep your guests healthy and safe this holiday season.

Turkey is one of the most popular items at feasts throughout the holiday season and it’s important to remember a few tips when it comes to preparing the bird. Allow enough time to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator; never thaw at room temperature. Make sure to place the turkey on a tray or dish in your fridge, since it will lose some of its natural moisture while thawing — which for large turkeys can take a few days. For example, a 20-24 pound turkey may take 4-5 days to thaw. If you choose to buy a fresh turkey and freeze it, be sure to follow the safe defrosting tips above when you are ready to cook. Be sure to always wash hands, utensils and surfaces used to thaw the turkey with soap and hot water to prevent cross-contamination with your other Thanksgiving foods.

Once thawed, wash the turkey thoroughly in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not recommend stuffing a turkey. Turkey should always be cooked until well done and no longer pink inside. The only true way to ensure safety is to use a meat thermometer inserted in the meatiest part of the turkey. When the turkey is done, all internal temperatures should be 165 degrees or higher. Turkey can be cooked, but never stuffed, from the frozen state. And don’t forget to remove the giblet package! If your bird is not served immediately, either keep cooked turkey hot, above 140 degrees or refrigerate it at 41 degrees or lower.

Remind kitchen party helpers to wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food — always!

Other basics can help you ensure a safe and successful party:

•Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold. When serving foods buffet-style, remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods can be kept hot with chafing dishes, crock pots and warming trays and should be at 140 degrees or warmer. Cold foods can be kept cold by placing food dishes in larger bowls of ice.

•Follow the Two Hour Rule for Party Platters. When serving party platters containing meats, fresh cut fruits, vegetables and other perishables, arrange food on several small platters rather than one large platter. Refrigerate platters of food until it is time to serve, and rotate food platters within two hours. Plan ahead! Make sure there is enough room in your refrigerator to store the extra trays. Replace empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that has already been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.

•Don’t forget about leftovers. Promptly refrigerate and store all leftovers in shallow containers. Most cooked dishes can keep for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Reheat thoroughly to 165 degrees when food is hot and steaming.

The Be Food Safe campaign introduced by the US Department of Agriculture and the Partnership for Food Safety Education is aimed at reducing foodborne illness by making sure consumers get the information they need to achieve and maintain safe food handling behaviors.

Be Food Safe retailers represent nearly 6,000 stores reaching an estimated 81 million consumers with consistent reminders about how to safely handle food to reduce risk of illness. These food retailers bring Be Food Safe messages to their customers through in-store signage, brochures, flyers, packaging and circular ads, in-store events and other special promotions. Consumers can download and print their own Be Food Safe basic brochure for home use from the Web site at www.befoodsafe.org .

The Partnership for Food Safety Education unites industry associations, professional societies in food science, nutrition and health, consumer groups and the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, to educate the public about safe food handling and preparation. The Partnership, a non-profit organization, is the creator and steward of the Fight BAC!® campaign, a food safety education program developed using scientifically based recommendations and resulting from an extensive consumer research process. Fight BAC!® materials are fully accessible online at www.fightbac.org and utilized by consumers, teachers, dietitians, public health officials and extension agents across the United States.

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