Halloween Food Safety
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home
podcast series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer - who
purchases and prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products
for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage, handling,
and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance of keeping
foods safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” This is Gertie Hurley with the Food Safety and
Inspection Service. I’m your host for this segment. With me today is Diane Van,
manager of the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline.
It's Halloween time. Children are busy planning their “trick or treat” outings.
Parents are getting Halloween costumes ready and often planning their Halloween
parties. If you’re planning for the Halloween festivities, let food safety be at the
top of your list. I’m sure no one wants to be tricked by unwanted bacteria that can
put them, their family, or friends at risk for foodborne illness.
It’s good to see you again, Diane.
Yes, it’s good seeing you, too..
Diane, let's say that I plan to host a Halloween party for some of my
favorite ghosts and goblins. What is one of the first things you would advise me to do
so that my guests can be food safe and have a great Halloween celebration at my home?
Gertie, my advice is for to you to start your preparation process by washing your
hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds. Do this before and after handling food.
Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean. Always use clean serving dishes for food
to prevent cross-contamination from raw food products to ready-to-eat food products.
This includes washing your cutting boards and preferably having two boards, one for
meat and poultry and another one for vegetables.
I’m planning to prepare some dishes for the party. Is there a safe method for me to
use in cooking the food?
Yes, Gertie. Whether you grill, microwave or cook on top of the stove, use a food
thermometer to ensure that hot foods are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature
- that kills harmful bacteria. I should point out that with a microwave, you need to
remember to rotate and stir the food to eliminate cold spots where food may not be
cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
What pointers do you have for me when I set the food out for my guests?
Gertie, you will want to be sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods
should be kept at a safe temperature of 140 °F or above. Cold food should be held at
40 °F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Follow the 2-Hour Rule: Food should not be
left at room temperature for more than two hours. Discard anything on the buffet that
has been out at room temperature for more than two hours or more.
Where can parents and others get more information about food safety?
Parents and others can visit the FSIS Web site at
www.fsis.usda.gov. That's www.fsis.usda.gov. Consumers can also get answers to
food safety questions online from our virtual representative “Ask Karen” at
www.askkaren.gov, or call the toll-free USDA
Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
That's it for this week. We’ve been talking to Diane Van from the USDA Meat and
Thank you so much, Diane, for your helpful pointers on having a food safe Halloween.
I’m Gertie Hurley and I’d like to thank you for joining us for this episode of “Food
Safety at Home.” And remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that’s all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of
food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free meat and poultry hotline
at 1-888-mphotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"ask karen" at www.askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.