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      Food safety during the holidays

      You may think it's okay to leave leftovers sitting out for guests to pick from hours after Christmas dinner. However, according to Marquette County health officials, it's not safe to leave food out for more than four hours."Whenever you leave foods out at temperatures between the ranges of 41 and 135, you can have a rapid growth bacteria that may be present in the food," said Patrick Jacuzzo, Marquette County Health Department. "It could cause illness."How you prepare meals is key to avoid the spread of any food born illness. If you are sick or have been ill recently, avoid cooking, avoid cross contamination, maintain good hygiene, and proper temperature control. So, hot foods need to be at 135 degrees or higher while cold foods no higher than 41 degrees. "Basically a good rule of thumb is if it was served hot, it needs to be kept hot," said Maggie Mahoney, Food & Beverage Director at the Holiday Inn. "When you are done serving it, get it cooled down and into the refrigerator as soon as possible."So, meats should be cooled and stored in the fridge after serving and any dairy-based appetizers should be kept cold, so try serving in small bowls and refill as needed. Desserts, like cookies, are good to leave out, but make sure you keep them and anything else well covered. Sometimes you may not know you're getting sick until days after. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach.