Food safety reminders for Seders and Easter dinners

WASHINGTON — Whether it’s a Passover Seder meal or Sunday’s Easter dinner, cooks and hosts will want to handle food safely this holiday weekend.

If there is a chance leftovers won’t get refrigerated right away or if you want to leave stuff out for snacking, consider putting it on ice.

“Goodies that need to be kept cold, you can put them on a bed of ice or a tray of ice,” said Janell Goodwin, a technical information specialist with the Department of Agriculture.

“Swap out the ice every 30 minutes, or when it begins to visibly melt.”

Observe the two-hour rule

“Keep in mind the two-hour rule for the danger zone,” Goodwin said.

The goal is to keep food at temperatures that won’t allow bacteria to grow. Bacteria thrives between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit and can double in number in as little as 20 minutes.

The USDA recommends refrigerating food right away — especially after it has been out for two hours.

Don’t fall into the egg trap

Decorating eggs can be a lengthy process, and hiding and finding them for Easter egg hunts also can be time consuming.

“It’s best to have two separate sets of eggs: one that you’re going to actually hunt, then one that you’re going to decorate and eat later,” Goodwin said. “Abide by the two-hour rule.”

Remember kitchen basics

Don’t forget to chill, separate and cook: Refrigerate foods promptly, separate raw meat from other foods and cook foods to recommended temperatures.

Make sure surfaces are frequently wiped down and hands are washed properly.

Washing your hands properly involves more than a cursory swipe under running water.

Spend at least 20 seconds lathering up well. Make sure you are washing under your fingernails and it is recommended you spend time vigorously rubbing all parts of your hands with soap, including your wrists.

An easy way to get the timing right for hand washing is by singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

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