The holidays tend to conjure up images of elegantly laid out tables spilling over with a bounty of edible delights, children running about underfoot as turkey and stuffing are prepared for the feast, and ultimately—husbands leaning back in comfortable chairs moaning about how full they are from the holiday meal.
While this scenario is common during the holidays, it’s also a possibility that the morning after the meal could be the result of food poisoning if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Often during the holidays, food is prepared and left out for several hours, allowing family and guests to nibble when the mood strikes. Many times there are several cooks in the kitchen helping to prepare food for all to enjoy. And with a house full of people who may not always practice proper hand washing, it’s difficult to be sure that little (and big) hands may not be carrying some nasty germs from the bathroom.
The holidays are no time to be taking a holiday food safety, and in fact, it’s a time of year when you should be taking a few extra precautions. By following some of the following tips, you can help to reduce the chances of anyone becoming ill from foodborne illness.
Best Holiday Food Safety Tips
1. Keep children out of the kitchen and provide them with hand sanitizer whenever they will be handling food at serving and nibbling tables.
2. Always wash fresh produce.
3. Use separate cutting boards for meat and fresh produce.
4. Ensure that your refrigerator and freezer are operating at the proper temperatures.
5. Always refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of serving.
6. Do not defrost your turkey on the kitchen counter. Allow 5 hours per pound in the refrigerator for adequate defrost time.
7. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey (and any meat) is cooked to the proper temperature.
8. Minimize the number of ‘cooks’ in the kitchen t help reduce the possibility of cross-contamination.
9. Have a plan for your holiday meal. This will help keep you organized and reduce the chances of forgetting to defrost the turkey or turn the oven on.
10. Wash your hands before and after handling food, and different types of food.
The holidays are a time for celebration and getting together with family and friends, but ‘The more the merrier’ doesn’t apply to germs, pathogens and bacteria.