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Don't Neglect Food Safety At Reception
By Jamie Vickers Phipps
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Safe food handling at the wedding reception can prevent disasterous affects on the guests and honeymooning newlyweds.
When family and friends pitch in to help minimize reception costs, freshness and food safety are important issues.
"The most important rule is to be sure that perishables such as meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and milk products do not stand at room temperature for more than two hours, which includes the preparation and serving time," said Dr. Barbara McLaurin, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Refrigerating warm food does not cause it to spoil, but in large quantities, the warm food could raise the refrigerator temperature. Reserve enough refrigerator space to store the food at or below 40 degrees. Place hot food in shallow containers to chill quickly.
Prepared food should not remain in the refrigerator more than one or two days. If prepared further in advance, the food should be frozen.
"Putting food in the refrigerator slows the contamination process; it does not stop it," McLaurin said.
By replenishing food as needed at a buffet-style reception, foodborne illness may be avoided and the food will be fresh.
"Plan ahead on ways to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Arrange to have enough large serving dishes so that it is convenient to bring fresh food to the serving line frequently," McLaurin said. "Do not put out large quantities of food at one time. Serve only what is needed and replace the food often."
Use electric hot trays or chafing dishes to keep foods such as seafood, poultry and cooked meats hot. Small candle warming units may not keep foods hot enough.
At the conclusion of the reception, to-go boxes are often prepared for the newlyweds to take on the honeymoon. Remember food safety issues here, and only pack nonperishables.
Take proper steps to ensure preservation of the top tier of the wedding cake as the couple carries on the tradition of eating it on their first anniversary.
"Most couples say the cake tastes terrible a year later," McLaurin said. "But the cake can be wrapped tightly to retain its quality."
Wrap the cake lightly in plastic for two to three hours, initially. When the cake is frozen and not as fragile, put it in a large freezer bag, freezer paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil.
"Place the cake in a hard, durable container because even a frozen cake is somewhat fragile," McLaurin said.