Buffets and pot lucks are a great way to serve food to a crowd but just how long should those cold cuts, shrimp rings, and Swedish meat balls be left out before they reach their "best before dates?" Safety Diva Lee Anne Lyons
tests Steven on his buffet time-line safety knowledge and gives us tips on how to keep buffet food fresh for as long as possible before it enters the "bacteria zone."
There are numerous illnesses caused by bacteria found in our food, some that you may have heard of like Salmonella, E.Coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, but there are viruses to consider also. Once bacteria contaminates, under perfect conditions, it can double every 20 minutes when we allow food to sit out at room temperature, the more the bacteria grows on the food the more likely you could get sick. Some foods are more likely to make you sick, we call them Potentially Hazardous Foods.Watch Episode 176 now.Some common buffet table foods:Shrimp Ring
One hour - two hours if served on ice. Cold cuts and pate
Two hours. Make serving plates smaller so you can have more than one - one on the table and a backup in the fridge. Don't refill existing plates - replace empty food platters with clean and filled food platters to avoid spreading hand germs.Dips for vegetables or chips
Two hours. Can keep out longer if you use containers that will keep a hot dip hot and a cold dip cold. Have a serving spoon in each dish so people don't dip their food in or even worse, double-dip
Potato and pasta salads
Two hours. Don't refill existing bowls. Replace with fresh salad from the refrigerator.
Use separate serving spoons or tongs for each salad.
Swedish, sweet and sour meatballs, and chili
Two hours at room temperature. The Safety Diva recommends serving hot foods in a crock pot, rice cooker or chaffing dish - then they can stay out longer. Deviled eggs
Zero hours. Serve by hand (rather than leaving on the table) then refrigerate.
Quiche - Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.
Keep cold food in the refrigerator and hot food in the oven until serving time.
Zero hours. Make enough for your service so you won't need to worry about any leftovers. You can always mix more salad and dressing if needed later.
Keep track of how long the foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything after two hours. Safety Diva's rul e- Food at the wrong temp for more than two hours, could leave your tummy feeling very sour, in only about 12-24 hours.
If the buffet is held outside and the outside temperature is above 28C or 85F, then the holding time is reduced to one hour. You can use your oven timer, or microwave timer, phone or mp3 timer to keep track of the time.
Rule of thumb, if you not sure how long it's been left out, when it doubt, throw it out instead of throwing it up! For outdoor service use coolers, ice packs etc, and for the hot foods, cook and eat right away.Safety Diva Rule- Keep it hot in a pot, or keep it cold and on hold.
Lee Anne Lyon is a Certified Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) and a Certified Professional-Food Safety (CP-FS) with NEHA (National Environmental Health Association). She is the Quality Assurance Manager for Central Canada at Compass Group Canada, one of the world's largest food service and facilities management companies. Lee Anne enjoys spreading the news about safety to anyone who comes across her path.