Dr. Vickie Vaclavik, a clinical nutritionist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, advises that cream-based products, eggs, meats and milk naturally promote the growth of bacteria that can cause food-borne illness.
"If these categories of foods are to be left out -- either unrefrigerated or not held hot -- they may become unsafe to eat, Vaclavik said. "The host may use smaller, easily replaced batches, which should be discarded after a couple of hours, or the foods should be held at the right temperatures."
Vaclavik gave these tips:
-- Remember the two-hour rule. Foods should not sit unprotected at room temperature for more than two hours.
-- Replace platters for fresh food instead of adding fresh food to a dirtied dish.
-- Keep hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, and cold foods at 40 degrees or colder.
-- Make sure to clean hands, work surfaces and utensils coming into contact with food.