With Halloween trick or treating and parties comes common sense advice to avoid unwrapped candy or treats that appear to have been tampered with. Beyond prepackaged candy, there are a few less apparent tips that parents and kids should follow to keep favorite Halloween treats safe from scary bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and other foodborne monsters.
Food safety advocate and expert Bill Marler has been on the front lines of food safety issues for two decades, representing victims of foodborne illness in claims against food companies and urging legislators to pass laws that protect our nation’s food supply. He regularly writes about these and related issues at www.marlerblog.com.
Keep your Halloween party foods safe with Bill’s simple tips:
• Apple cider is a terrific fall treat. Before you or your kids drink cider, make sure it has been pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy potentially harmful bacteria.
• Don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter. . .no matter how good it looks. Raw foods like eggs can harbor foodborne pathogens. Cook these food items first so they won’t make you or little ones sick.
• No party would be complete without “bobbin’ for apples.” Unfortunately, sometimes an illness from bacteria present on the apples is an unintended prize. Wash all apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
• Chill all perishable foods until they’re ready to be served. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
• Keep hot party foods hot at a temperature of at least 140 degrees.
• Once hot or cold dishes are served, don’t leave the food at room temperature for more than two hours.
• Eat leftovers within three to four days. It is not always possible to tell if food is still safe to eat by look, smell or taste.