The holidays are a time to get together with friends and family. Nothing beats singing songs, playing games, or catching up with loved ones. Different families have different holiday traditions, but whatever your traditions are, food is sure to be a part of the mix. Whether you’re preparing finger foods for an upcoming party, or planning an elaborate feast for Christmas day, you can’t forget about food safety. Make sure that your holiday goes well with these holiday food safety tips.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands well, and washing your hands often, can help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. Wash your hands before handling, preparing, or serving food. Don’t be shy about asking helpers to wash up, either. Keep hand soap near the sink and have at least one sink clear so it’s easy to get in and scrub up.
Keep surfaces clean
Make sure counter tops, cutting boards, and other food-contact surfaces are cleaned thoroughly before and after preparing food. If you have multiple cutting boards, designate one for poultry, one for meat, and one for the veggies to avoid contaminating foods when cutting.
What to rinse and what not to rinse
Rinse fruits and vegetables, but do not rinse raw meat or poultry.
Keep foods separate
Keep different foods separate to avoid cross-contamination, It’s especially important to keep dishes and utensils that have touched raw meat separate from other foods. Make it easy: fill a sink with hot soapy water and toss kitchen gear in as soon as you’ve used it with raw meat or poultry. If you need that utensil again, you only have to give it a quick scrub and a rinse.
Cook foods thoroughly
It’s important to cook foods to their minimum internal temperature to kill germs and ensure that the food is safe to eat.
Dishes with raw eggs
Harmful germs, such as salmonella, can be found on the outside of egg shells, and inside eggs themselves. The safest option is to avoid recipes that call for raw eggs, but if you decide to make a dish that requires raw eggs, use pasteurized eggs.
Some kids get a thrill out of licking the batter off the mixing spoon, but this is unsafe. Raw dough containing uncooked flour or eggs can contain harmful germs and bacteria. Best plan: don’t let kids get into the habit. If it’s a custom in your household, let this holiday season be the opportunity for a change.
Use serving utensils
Make sure all foods have a serving utensil. Your guests may have impeccable hygiene, but serving utensils can help keep fingers out of foods and prevent the spread of germs.
Keep foods out of the “danger zone”
The “danger zone” is the temperature range between 40 and 140 °F that lends itself to bacteria growth. Don’t leave foods out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible.
How to handle leftovers
Finish refrigerated leftover food within 3 to 4 days. Reheat leftovers to 165 °F to kill off bacteria. Are you uncertain about whether or not food has gone bad? If you have enough doubt to get a second opinion, don’t take the risk.
Have a happy and healthy holiday!