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Mitzi Parker: Halloween food safety — don’t let spooky germs trick you or your guests!

Having a Halloween party? Make sure invisible germs don’t play tricks on you or your Halloween guests!
• Always wash your hands and have clean work spaces when preparing foods for guests.
• When making treats, don’t taste doughs and batters that contain raw eggs.
• Keep all perishable foods chilled until serving time. Once you bring them out, don’t let them stay out at room temperature for longer than two hours. Foods that must have time and temperature controlled for safety include cold, moist foods like finger sandwiches with meats, soft cheeses and/or cut up veggies; dips; cut fruit or salads; cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, or salads like potato salad, egg salad, etc.
• Use these easy ways to keep cold foods cold:
— Store-bought party trays: fill the lids with ice and place the trays on top.
— Salads and other items in bowls: nest in larger bowls of ice.
— Serve food on several small platters or in small bowls so that you can refrigerate the food until needed and change out the containers of food that have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours.
• Hot foods are also perishable. Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees F. or hotter for serving.
• Use these easy ways to keep hot foods hot:
— Serve hot foods in crock pots.
— Use warming trays.
— Use chafing dishes with lighted fuel cans.
• Don’t serve spooky cider! Unpasteurized juice and cider can contain harmful bacteria that can make you sick. Always serve pasteurized products at your Halloween party!
• Remind guests (especially kids) to wash hands before and after eating.
• Bobbing for apples isn’t the most sanitary game! Think of another activity, and give away apples as prizes for participating in your food safe game.
Special thanks to Taylor Burrage for this information. She is a student in the UGA Dept. of Foods and Nutrition and a practicum student for UGA Extension and Judy Harrison, Ph.D., professor and Extension food safety specialist.

Mitzi Parker is Sumter County Extension agent/Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Contact her at 229-924-4476.