The One to Count On...

Avoid Leaving Foods Out Too Long, says Expert

Posted: Thursday, December 24th, 2009 at 6:27 am

One of the many favorites of the holiday season is the amounts and varieties of foods available at family gatherings and parties, but there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you enjoy the foods you eat. Kathy VanNorden, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Pella High School says hot foods out on a counter need to stay above 140 degrees, and cold foods below 40 degrees, adding that during the holidays we tend to leave foods out too long.

VanNorden particularly warns against any protein-based foods, which include many popular holiday snacks.

“Proteins are your biggest problem. You want to keep an eye on anything that has a protein base,” says VanNorden. “So that would be any of your cream cheese-type spreads or dips, any meat products, and anything with cheese. Those are the ones that you have to worry about bacteria growing in. So once again, those can be kept out in that danger zone of 140 to 40 degrees for no longer than two hours.”

VanNorden adds that leftovers should also be put into containers and refrigerated also within that two hour time period, stating that it’s probably safer to throw foods away after two hours than try and save them for later.