Meals take up a big place at most end-of-year festivities. With feasts being the centrepiece of our holiday celebrations, it’s important to consider (even though it may put a slight damper on your festive spirit), the possible risk of cross-contamination, which can lead to food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses.

Fortunately, you can protect your guests (and yourself) by following a few simple rules.

Remember: Clean, Separate and Refrigerate

Tips & tricks

All surfaces that come into contact with food such as cutting boards, utensils, countertops, tables, etc., should be sanitized to reduce or eliminate the possible risk of cross-contamination.

Never put food on platters that have already been used. Each time you refill the buffet table, use a clean plate.

Use separate serving utensils for each dish such as spoons, tongs, toothpicks, etc. This will help to prevent contamination between guests.

Without wishing to encourage waste, always throw out any food that has been left at room temperature for more than two hours. Bacteria like to grow on food that has been left to cool slowly. What if the food looks, smells or tastes perfectly fine? Even then it can still be contaminated.

Eat any refrigerated leftovers within two to three days, or freeze them right away. Also avoid overfilling your fridge to allow for adequate air circulation.

And most importantly? Wash your hands often to prevent spreading bacteria!

Bon appétit!