For Your Holiday Buffet, Remember the Two-Hour Rule Bacteria Certainly Will

Visiting with family and friends over long leisurely meals or grazing on buffet-style spreads while watching football games for hours is an integral part of many holiday settings. For the safety of your guests, however, make sure your holiday banquet doesnt turn into a rampant bacteria buffet.

One out of every four Americans suffers from some type of food-borne illness each year, says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. To make sure youre spreading holiday cheer and not holiday food poisoning, dont leave food out for more than two hours at a time. Two hours is a critical time, after which bacteria begin to multiply rapidly.

If youre watching calorie intake, Sandon offers another suggestion. Provide smaller plates for holiday feasts. You also can place holiday offerings in smaller serving dishes.

The result: guests tend to take smaller portions.In addition, if your buffet table is loaded with more choices than you should take, consider passing on foods that you can eat any time, such as mashed potatoes, she said. Go for those special items that you only get once a year, such as Grannys sweet potato pie.

Source: UT Southwestern MedicalCenter at Dallas