Skip to main content UVA Health logo of UVA Health
Healthy Balance

Holiday Food Safety Tips

table with thanksgiving food in platters and dishes
To keep your holiday festivities fun, it’s important to remember food safety tips to protect your guests from food-borne illnesses.

If you’re the host of this year’s holiday dinner or get-together, you have more to do than just inviting guests, planning the menu and preparing the food. You also need to think about food safety, so everyone leaves at the end of the festivities feeling as good – or better – as when they arrived. Here’s how to make your food the star of the show and not a show-stopper with easy food safety tips.

Not only do you want food to taste good and look attractive, but you also need to take steps to make sure food is safe to eat – especially if you plan on serving food buffet-style.  After all, nobody enjoys a holiday gathering if they get sick from what they eat.

Food Safety Tips to Avoid Getting Sick

Here are some valuable tips from a food safety educator on how to safely serve food. These tips primarily cover why it’s important to keep hot food hot and cold food cold, as well as the best ways to do it safely.

Hot Food:

  • Hot food should be kept above 135°F.
  • Use a chafing dish to keep hot foods hot.
  • Pour hot water into the chafing dish. To avoid dangerous splashing, carry the hot water in a teapot.
  • If there is no built-in cup holder for the canned heat, place it on a saucer under the dish. Do not put canned heat directly on the table because it can burn the table or start a fire.
  • Use the lid of the canned heat to set the height of the flame (the more closed the lid, the smaller the flame).
  • Once the chafing dish has heated up, place a hot pan of food inside.
  • Keep the dish covered to retain heat.
  • When it’s time to replenish food, use a new pan and new serving utensil. Never top off the old food in the pan with new food.

48 Hours of Food Poisoning

If you’re still experiencing side effects due to food poisoning longer than 48 hours, you should contact your primary care doctor.

Cold Food:

  • Keep cold food at 41°F or below.
  • Serve cold food in metal or ceramic bowls over an ice bath. Do not use plastic containers because they do not keep food cold as effectively.

Other Food Safety Tips:

  • Reduce cross-contamination by providing spoons in all dips and replacing utensils every four hours.
  • Keep a supply of fresh plates at your buffet table so your guests can use a new plate if they return for seconds.
  • Food that has been left out without proper temperature control should be discarded after two hours.

Copyright 2019 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Reply & View Comments Search Submit

Subscribe for Updates

Get stories & health tips every week