March 23, 2018

Hosting A Holiday Party? Take A Food Safety Quiz

Do you know how long perishable food can be out at room temperature before it spoils? To what temperature poultry should be cooked? Or, the proper temperature for your refrigerator?

The holiday season is a time when public health officials publish lots of food safety advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, has a tips on safe road travel, how to prepare safely prepare a turkey, food safety tips for pregnant women, a three-and-a-half minute podcast called “Holiday Food Safety” and holiday safety tips set to song. has links to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) “Fun Platters” and “Buffet Bonanza” and the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) “Holiday or Party Buffets,” “Keeping Food Safe on the Buffet Table,” and “Be Food Safe for Holiday Buffets.”

The health department in Chester County, Pa. has a food safety quiz you can take. It’s about 10, multiple choice questions in a click-through format. Send us your health departments food safety tips and we’ll add them to our growing stash.

One food safety tip that appears almost universally on these tipsheets is good handwashing. Whether you are the cook or the guest, good handwashing- washing hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, before you prepare or eat food is one of the best defenses against spreading foodborne illness.

Norovirus, the most common cause of food poisoning is in full swing this time of year and it’s highly contagious. Touching a surface that a sick person has touched and then touching your face or mouth or eating without first washing hands is one of the ways this virus-which causes frequent, forceful bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, is contracted. If you have been sick, you should not prepare food until you’ve been symptom-free for three days.

Another universal recommendation is to use a food thermometer. It’s the only way to safely check the “doneness” of meat. When serving your foods keep the hot ones hot and the cold ones cold and don’t leave anything out at room temperature for more than two hours.

For more tips, you can check one of the many resources listed above. Or try’s “Ask Karen” to email or chat online with a food safety expert.

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