December 2022

· 2 min read

Getting Ready for Gatherings of Family and Friends? Follow These Six Expert Tips

Gathering with family and friends can be a lot of work. Follow our six expert tips to be prepared.
A family gathering during holiday season - Tips to Protect Yourself From Foodborne Illness | NSF

It’s that time of year when we’re all welcoming friends and relatives to our holiday tables and feasting on our favorite foods and traditional recipes. It’s overwhelming, but you can be prepared with these expert tips to make things go smoothly. After the meal, tummies are full and the table is still brimming with leftover ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and a bounty of delicious desserts. How long can you leave your holiday dinner on the table? And what’s the best way to send guests home with leftovers?

Learn what NSF’s food safety experts do at their family gatherings to protect themselves and their loved ones from foodborne illness.

  1. 1

    Containers and Storage

    Don’t reuse containers that food came in for leftovers. These are designed for single use and not for storage. Instead, use food-safe/freezer-safe containers (NSF certified) or a gallon- or quart-size storage bag.

  2. 2

    Clean Up — Before and After

    Prepping your kitchen before cooking is vital for food safety. Check out these cleaning tips.

  3. 3

    From Table to Fridge … Fast

    Food safety means keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Start packing up leftovers within two hours to avoid a breeding ground for germs. It’s not necessary or safer to cool them down to room temperature before you refrigerate or freeze them.

  4. 4

    Cool It

    Putting your warm food into the fridge to cool properly before storage is essential for food safety. Use shallow containers for large portions of food as well as vent lids and use your thermometer to ensure that food is cooled and ready for storage.

  5. 5

    Consider Portion Size

    Keep in mind when you store your food after the meal to use small portions for individual servings and larger ones to serve the family for tomorrow’s lunch.

  6. 6

    Reheat Properly

    Not all food storage containers are safe for reheating foods. Check the usage instructions on the bottom of the container, visit the manufacturer’s website or consult the retailer for details. Use your thermometer and reheat leftovers to at least 165° F (73° C) before eating.

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