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5 Holiday Food Safety Tips

December 19, 2011

The holiday season is a special time often accompanied by an array of tasty treats like cakes, cookies, and pies. But if not prepared correctly, sometimes those delicious foods can harbor harmful bacteria and spoil your holiday feast, potentially leading to foodborne illness. This holiday season avoid becoming one of the 76 million Americans that fall victim to foodborne illness each year and be prepared by following these 5 easy tips to food safety:

1. KEEP HOT FOODS HOT AND COLD FOODS COLD

Sounds simple enough, right? But what exactly qualifies as a safe temperature for cold foods and hot foods? The answer: follow the 40/140 rule. Keep cold foods below 40° Fahrenheit and hot foods above 140° Fahrenheit and you’ll cut down the chance for harmful bacteria to grow significantly.  In order to ensure this food safety range use a thermometer as well as other necessities (coolers, ice, thermal containers, etc.) to keep hot and cold foods at their proper temperatures, especially if you’re traveling long distance with food.

2. WASH YOUR HANDS…THOROUGHLY

Another easy way to cut down on the chance of contaminating your food with harmful bacteria! But don’t just settle with a quick rinse with some luke warm water. Use soap, warm water, and be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing the ABCs in your head while your wash as a good measuring stick towards reaching the 20 second mark.

3. DON’T LET THE LEFTOVERS LINGER

It’s easy to forget about the leftovers shortly after eating a large holiday meal, especially when hunger is no longer a concern and post-meal festivities occupy your thoughts. But this is often the time where bacteria gets its best opportunity to spoil the night (and your food). That’s because within a few hours many foods can fall within 40-140 degrees, a danger zone in which most bacteria thrive. Unfortunately, a few hours after a meal is also typically the time when people tend to pick at food for second helpings and that could lead to trouble so be sure and put the leftovers in the fridge 1-2 hours after serving to keep harmful bacteria at bay.

4. KEEP CONTACT SURFACES CLEAN

Countertops, cutting boards, plates, bowls, utensils and other containers should always be kept clean when preparing food items. In the case of raw food items, keep them as well as the containers they’re in separate from cooked or ready-to-serve items to avoid cross-contamination.

5. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT

If a certain food item looks, smells, or tastes suspicious don’t take any chances – just toss it. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

WANT MORE FOOD SAFETY INFORMATION?

For more great food safety information and tips, visit these other great sites specifically aimed at fighting foodborne illness:

http://www.homefoodsafety.org/

http://www.foodsafety.gov/

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kati Mora, MS, RD permalink
    December 22, 2011 12:10 PM

    Great advice! I especially like the “don’t leftovers linger bit” – so important!

    • December 23, 2011 11:18 PM

      Thanks for your comment Kati! Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

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