Holiday Food Safety Tips

In addition to the holiday season being in full swing, so are germs. It is critical to minimize the risk of you or your guests falling prey to sickness, particularly if it is a foodborne illness.

The Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Branch are urging us to revisit health and safety practices when handling food. Why become a culprit or victim when all you need to do is be mindful of ensuring food is cooked through, stored at the correct temperature and your hands, utensils, and work space is sanitized.

The Times-Standard shared some very handy tips; after all, prevention is better than cure:

  1. Cleanliness: Make sure that hands and surfaces that will come in to contact with food are sanitized using appropriate cleaning agents.
  2. Avoid cross-contamination: Fruits and vegetables should be cleaned in a sanitized basin and should not come in to contact with uncooked meat, eggs, poultry or seafood. Also, ensure the use of clean utensils each time you taste test.
  3. Food storage: Ensure that cold foods are immediately stored in the refrigerator or freezer on the lowest shelves so that they don't leak over other edibles. Should you need to defrost a turkey, defrost in the refrigerator or wrap well and immerse in cold water (which will require periodic refreshing).
  4. Clean poultry in running water and pat dry before cooking.
  5. Temperature requirement:
  • Stuffing - if it contains meat, fish, or poultry, the temperature should reach 165F.
  • Turkey/ Chicken - Insert a thermometer in the densest part of the bird and it is cooked through if it reaches 165F.
  • Steaks and roasts - Reach an internal temperature of 145F.
  • Ground meat - 155F and ground poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165F.
  • Reheating left overs require a minimum internal temperature of 165F.

6. Refrigeration of cooked items :

  • Cool poultry down and refrigerate within 2 hours and slice less than 2 1/2 inches thick, store in shallow containers.
  • Separately store stuffing, meat, and sauces.
  • Discard poultry after 4 days and sauces after 2 days.
  • Cream, custard, and meringue pies should be stored below 41F.

Photo: srqpix

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