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Don't Invite Unwanted guests to Your New Year's Eve Party

how to prevent bacteria chart with the 4 keys to preventing bacteria


Seems we just got through planning our Christmas celebration and now we are planning New Year’s Eve. As we make our guest list, there is someone we do not want to attend. That someone is bacteria that can cause food borne illness, or food poisoning as we call it.

During most New Year’s Eve parties, we usually set up a buffet, because of its ease in maintaining. Unfortunately, this type of food service leaves the door open for those uninvited guests, bacteria.

Bacteria are everywhere, especially where we don’t want them. They love to crash parties and make guests ill. These bacteria are unlike the microorganisms that cause food to spoil. These harmful or pathogenic bacteria cannot be smelled or tasted.

Your key to prevention is to practice safe food handling. Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean. Always serve food on clean plates, not those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria that may have been present in raw meat juices can cross contaminate the food to be served.

If your party will include meats, cook thoroughly to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer, to determine if your meats are safely cooked. Cook roast beef, veal, and lamb to 145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium. Cook all poultry to 165°F including wings and ground poultry. Hams fresh or smoked (uncooked) should be cooked to 145°F and allowed to rest for at least 3 minutes.

Once your party foods have been cooked, divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165°F. Once reheated to the proper temperature, arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200 - 250°F) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way food will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. Once food runs out on the buffet, replace empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting at room temperature.

Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Place ma sticky note on each item as put on the buffet to keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table. Anything over two hours or more, discard. During these two hours, bacteria begin to rapidly grow and multiply, therefore increasing your chances of food borne illness.

One of the easiest rules of safe food handling to follow is that hot foods should be held at 140°F or warmer, and cold foods should be held at 40°F or colder. On the buffet table, you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them frequently as previously mentioned.

By following these simple rules, you and your guests can have a safe New Year’s Eve party, that will be remembered as being full of fun and good times, and not the party where they met the uninvited guests referred to as food borne illness.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

Add this artichoke spinach dip to your buffet and keep it safe by cooking and warming it in a crockpot. I made this for Christmas as an appetizer and it was a delicious treat.

Artichoke Spinach Dip

9 ounces light cream cheese

16 ounces light sour cream

1/2 cup butter

10 ounce frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid

14 ounce can artichoke hearts

Small can diced green chilies, mild drained (don’t worry it won’t make it hot)

2 cups shredded parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Combine all ingredients in crock pot liner; turn on low and let cook for 2 hours. Stir before serving, if melted turn to warm. If it is too thick, add milk and stir. Serve with tortilla chips or bagel chips.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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