Maintaining a Safe Party Buffet Prevents Illness

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Jan. 14, 2013

            LINCOLN, Neb. — Every year during the Super Bowl, millions of people gather to watch the game, as well as the commercials. The parties also usually include a spread of game day treats.

            Party buffets create a favorable environment for foodborne illness, said University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension food specialist Julie Albrecht, but proper handling and serving of party foods can hold the bacteria at bay.

            As with any food preparation, clean kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot water and soap before cooking. Cook hamburger to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees and chicken to 165 degrees – a chart of other safe temperatures can be found at – and place cooked food on clean plates, not plates that previously held raw food.

            When game day arrives, keep your hot dishes hot and your cold dishes cold. This is a good time to use chafing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays to maintain a temperature of 140 degrees or warmer. Cold dishes, on the other hand, should be kept below 40 degrees by nesting the dishes in bowls of ice, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources specialist said.

            "If you buy party trays at the store, remove the lid and fill it with ice," Albrecht said. "Put the tray on the lid for a handy cooling station."

            Don't let your food sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long the trays have been on the table and discard them after two hours.

            "Make two platters and rotate the fresh one out of the fridge at halftime," Albrecht suggests. "Serve food on smaller platters rather than one large platter."

            For leftovers, divide foods into shallow containers and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.

            Following these tips should make for a healthier, safer game day, Albrecht said.

Julie Albrecht, Ph.D.
nutrition and health sciences

Sandi Karstens
IANR News Service

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