Be Their Guest:
The Gift of Safe Food
Author: Living Well Eating Smart Registered Dietitian Team
Since you’re not hosting, there’s no need to worry about food safety, right?
As you hit the road to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, keep that food safety hat on! Traveling with foods requires heightened food-safety awareness. Follow these steps to prevent making those you love sick with a foodborne illness when adding to your host’s smorgasbord.
As You Travel
Wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after packing food up to go. Store food in clean food containers and bags. Bring clean serving utensils if necessary, too.
Store raw poultry, meat, seafood and eggs properly in their own containers and wrapped in their own food storage bags, to prevent raw juices from leaking on other foods and bags during travel.
- If traveling with warm foods, keep them above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Store food in a hot slow cooker with a fastened lid. Store food containers in insulated bags with hot packs.
- Pack an instant-read food thermometer to verify your dish stayed out of the Food Safety Danger Zone (40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
- When traveling with cold foods, keep them below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Store food in insulated bags and containers with ice and/or ice packs. A cold trunk or truck bed won’t do!
- As with hot foods, pack an instant-read food thermometer to verify your dish stayed out of the Food Safety Danger Zone (40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
When You Arrive
Wash hands before and after handling food and clean serving surfaces.
- As you prepare any raw, uncooked meat, keep them separate from other foods.
- Use their own cutting boards and utensils during preparation and cooking. Wash cutting boards and utensils with soap and running hot water immediately, to prevent cross-contact of potential bacteria with cooked and uncooked foods.
- Always cook foods to their recommended internal temperature, as verified by an instant-read food thermometer. Each meat has its own goal temperature. Learn more.
For hot foods that will be on a buffet longer than 1 to 2 hours, hold above 140 degrees Fahrenheit by setting its slow cooker to the “warm” setting or serving in a chafing dish resting in a hot water bath over lit fuel canisters.
Serving a large amount? Divide portions into smaller containers if heating options aren’t available. Keep remaining food above 140 degrees Fahrenheit in a warm oven.
For cold foods that will be out longer than 1 to 2 hours, continue keeping them cold by serving on ice or in an insulated container with ice packs. For large amounts, portion smaller servings on buffet tables with remainders in the refrigerator (not outside in cold weather!).
Published 12/20/2021; Reviewed 12/1/2022