3 Ways to Stay Healthy over the Holidays – Tips to Celebrate Safely
Ever heard the saying, “Santa Claus and germs are everywhere”? Though there are may be differing opinions on the former part of this statement, this fact about germs is undeniably true. And when working in the kitchen, this reality becomes even more important. That is why in order to remain safe and healthy throughout the holidays, several precautions must be taken to prevent contracting (or spreading) foodborne illness
Hand Washing: Simple but Vital
The most simple concept, and yet the one that many folk “never fail” to neglect, is washing your hands. Germs are everywhere, and though you may not realize it, everything you touch is likely covered in them. This truth is especially important to remember when you are cooking a large meal over the holidays and wish to prevent the entire extended family from spending Christmas hunched over a toilet bowl. While you may not like to picture that scenario, its true that many dangers can arise from neglecting to wash your hands. You can easily pick up E.Coli, Salmonella, and other dangerous bacteria that can be life-threatening to a person’s health simply by touching uncooked foods (such as meat, vegetables, etc.). The next thing you touch, be it a utensil, countertop, or wiping your hands on your apron, becomes contaminated! In order to prevent this, it is essential that before, during, and after dealing with these foods in the kitchen that you wash your hands under clean, running water for at least 20 seconds.
In short, a nice hand sink is required in any kitchen, with clean paper towels to dry off your hands and turn off the water faucet!
Avoiding Unpasteurized Batters and Raw Doughs
Along with washing your hands, another way to remain safe is to refrain from consuming raw dough or batter. Though it is tempting and does taste absolutely delicious, it is not worth the risk. By eating uncooked dough or batter, you risk the product being contaminated with harmful germ. You can also choose to only purchase dough that is edible (made with heat-treated flour or pasteurized eggs). That way, the kids can enjoy the cookie dough risk-free!
Freeze or Refrigerate Leftovers Quickly!
Lastly, but not least importantly, food cannot be left sitting out for long periods of time – even on a special holiday. The practice in which people leave food out for a whole day, or worse yet even overnight, and then “snack” on for the rest of the day, is dangerous. Perishable foods. such as meats, seafood, eggs, and many more, need to be refrigerated or frozen within two hours after cooking/serving them. This is because the one fact that many aren’t aware of is that food can become contaminated even after it has been cooked. If it is not stored properly, you run the risk of bacteria being reintroduced into the food, even after it has been cooked properly and to the correct internal temperature, and then growing quickly at room temperatures.
Although many may not believe it, cooking food is dangerous. In order to keep both you and your loved ones safe, following the correct food-safety protocols is essential.