Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
As we continue to wear masks and stay at six feet apart this holiday season, it’s also important to be mindful of food safety tips to keep ourselves, and our loved ones, safe. The following are just a few ways to ensure proper food safety:
- Safety in storage. As you purchase food products for your upcoming holiday meal it’s important to properly store the items before you begin cooking. Foods such as meats, chicken, seafood, and eggs should remain separate from each other to prevent contamination from dripping or leaking.
- Thaw properly.. Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator, microwave, or in cold water (changing the water every half hour). The CDC reports that meat products “must thaw at safe temperatures to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.”
- Wash your hands! Taking care to wash your hands before, during, and after food preparation is an effective way to limit the spread of harmful germs. When washing your hands wet them with clean water, lather with soap, scrub your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and rinse.
- Resist anything raw! As tempting as cookie doughs or cake batters may seem around the holidays, they may contain germs such as E.coli or Salmonella that can cause serious illness. Harmful bacteria in raw batters and doughs are killed only when cooked correctly so stay wary of the consumption of anything containing raw ingredients.
- Sanitize your space. When washing cookware it’s important to sanitize with a diluted bleach solution or hot water in addition to standard cleaning with dish soap – which only serves to degrease and separate food from cookware not kill harmful germs and bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli. Similarly to keeping hands properly sanitized, it’s important to maintain proper sanitation procedures for cookware before, during, and after food preparation.
- Cook to preference as well as perfection. While we all have different preferences on how we like our food cooked, it’s important to make sure all foods being served are cooked to completion. Food is safe to consume only once it has reached an internal temperature high enough to kill illness-causing germs. Below are some benchmark temperature standards regarding animal products:
|Food||Safe Internal Temperature|
|Whole cuts beef, pork, veal, lamb||145°F (allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes)|
|Ground beef, ground pork||160°F|
|Poultry, including ground||165°F|
|Leftovers & Casseroles||165°F|
- Take care of the leftovers. Once food is cooked it must be stored properly to prevent any harmful bacteria growth. According to the CDC, adequate refrigeration or freezing of any perishable food items should occur within two hours in a refrigerator at 40°F or below, or frozen at or below 0°F.
National Food Safety lawyer Ron Simon reminds everyone to “Enjoy this Holiday season while exercising the necessary and beneficial food safety precautions that will keep every meal as safe as it is delicious.”