Winter weather and entertaining do not always go hand in hand. If you are preparing food and your guests get delayed or can’t make it at all do you know how to handle your food safely? Here are some tips from AnswerLine and The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on how to handle foods safely when the meal is cancelled or delayed.
Here are some winter scenarios and what to do to handle food safely:
Meat is thawed for dinner. Guests are coming…but not tonight.
- Raw meat can be refrozen ONLY if it was safely thawed in the refrigerator. You may find some texture differences if it was previously frozen but if it was handled correctly it is not a safety risk. If your guests are coming tomorrow instead then you could refrigerate your meat but if they reschedule for next week put the meat in the freezer. (FSIS)
The food is ready but your guests are delayed.
- FSIS reminds us to keep hot food hot and cold foods cold. Don’t let any food enter the danger zone – between 40° F and 140° F for more than 2 hours.
- If you have a meat dish in the oven use a meat thermometer in the center of your dish and adjust your oven to maintain the 140° F minimum temperature. Covering the food with foil will help to keep it from drying out. (FSIS)
My turkey has thawed but my party is 3+ days away.
- Thawed turkey is safe for only 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
- You can cook the turkey and cut the meat off. Place it in a casserole dish with broth and place in either your freezer or the refrigerator (for up to 4 days). When you are ready to eat place the foil covered dish in your oven at 325° F until your meat is heated to 165° F again.
I have soup ready and the weather report is advising no travel. What should I do with the soup?
- If you want to store the soup transfer to smaller containers that are shorter and wider to help the soup cool down faster. It is not safe to keep it in the big pot and place it in the refrigerator. It would take a long time for the soup in the middle of the pan to cool to a safe temperature and it would make it unsafe.
I have run out of refrigerator space and I want to store food in my garage or porch.
- Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean that a garage or porch is cool enough to store food. A better choice would be a cooler with ice. We MUST store food below 40° F to keep it safe.
If you have any questions about food safety when weather messes with your entertaining plans give us a call at AnswerLine. We will help to answer your questions and keep your food safe!