What’s your favorite food for Easter? Is there one food that is always served as a family tradition? Your family members may request foods that you don’t usually prepare. You may also have help in the kitchen as you cook and dye eggs. As a general review for all food preparation, remember 4 basic rules Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
Clean- start with a clean environment, utensils and hands.
Separate- use different cutting boards and knives for uncooked meats and vegetables/fruits.
Cook foods to the proper temperatures (http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html).
Chill foods in shallow containers within two hours to keep leftovers safe to use later.
Ham is another food that causes some confusion because there are several types you can buy. Read the label carefully to see if it is fresh or fully cooked. Cooking times vary depending on the cut and size of the ham. A fresh uncooked ham (12-16 pounds) will take 22-26 minutes per pound while a whole smoked fully cooked ham may only take 15-18 minutes per pound. A fresh ham needs to be cooked before eating; cured and fresh hams should be cooked to 160 degrees F. Fully cooked hams can be eaten cold or reheated to 165 degrees F. Use your food thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the ham away from the bone to get an accurate reading. For more details on cooking ham properly, check out http://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/ham.html
While all the festivities are going on during the family gathering is it safe to leave the food out all afternoon for folks to eat as they arrive? No, it is not. While it might be convenient, most foods should only be left out of the refrigerator no more than two hours. If you leave the foods out, the foodborne illness, Staphylococcus aureus has been found in high-protein foods, even salty ones like ham. To keep everyone safe, set a mealtime and store food within the two hour time frame so that no one gets sick.
Family gatherings are a great way to celebrate holiday traditions, make sure that you follow safe food practices so that everyone has pleasant memories!
Written by: Melinda Hill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumers Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wayne County.
Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.