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USDA Food Tip: Don’t Let Bacteria Crash Your Party

People dressed for a holiday party don’t picture themselves sick in bed shortly after the festivities, but that’s what could happen if food on party buffets isn’t handled and served safely. Bacteria are party crashers, and the only housewarming gift they bring is foodborne illness.

How do bacteria crash parties? They hitch a ride on perishable foods left out at room temperature without being kept cold (40 °F and below) or hot (140 °F and above). This is called the “Danger Zone” temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F where bacteria grow and multiply exponentially, doubling in number every 20 minutes.

To be a safe host, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends following the four basics of safe food preparation: “Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.” These basics should also be followed by guests bringing foods to a party.
 
 

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