(NC) - "Staying in" is the new "going out". As the autumn air becomes crisper and the days become shorter, thoughts inevitably turn to hosting fall get-togethers. Entertaining at home is a great way to showcase hospitality and culinary creativity, and strengthen relationships with friends and family.
A delicious meal is the cornerstone of home entertaining. But don't let foodborne illness RSVP to your gathering. Keep the following helpful food safety tips in mind when preparing meals for guests:
Cook with meat and poultry from a reputable brand. For instance, Maple Leaf has made food safety a top priority so customers can have confidence in the safety of the food they buy.
Uncooked meat in marinade is perishable. Do not marinate for longer than 24 hours and be sure to marinate in the refrigerator, using a covered container.
Meat must be cooked thoroughly. How can you tell? Use a meat thermometer to ensure that it's cooked all the way through. Cook red meat to 160 F (71 C) and poultry to 180 F (82 C).
Always serve food on clean plates that have not been in contact with raw meat. This helps prevent bacteria present in raw meats from cross-contaminating your food.
Room temperature is bacteria's best friend, so keep hot foods HOT, and cold foods COLD. To prevent foods from reaching room temperature, serve dishes in smaller portions. Keep extras in the oven or fridge until your guests are ready for seconds.
Observe the "two-hour" rule before storing leftovers. If foods have been sitting out for more than two hours, they should be discarded. Otherwise, freeze or refrigerate them in shallow, airtight containers to promote rapid cooling.
Now you're ready to create a safe and delicious meal for your friends and family - time to get cooking!