It’s that time of year when we enjoy delicious feasts with our friends and family. However, during the holiday season, it is important to remember the potential threat of foodborne illnesses when preparing food. You can keep your family and friends safe by practicing these four simple food safety tips:
The most important step when preparing food is thoroughly washing your hands and any surface that food may encounter during preparation.
• Wash hands before, during, and after food preparation, as well as before eating or drinking. Use warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
• Clean surfaces that are in contact with food (e.g., countertops, cutting boards and utensils) with hot soapy water, especially when switching between foods/tasks.
• Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables with running water.
The next step to food safety is to eliminate the opportunity for cross-contamination. This can be done by separating raw meats from foods that are ready-to-eat (e.g., salads or fruit platters).
• Do not use the same cutting board, utensils, or plates for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods.
• When shopping, ensure raw meats are not in an area of the cart where fluids may spill onto other foods.
• Always store raw meats on the bottom of the refrigerator, away from ready-to-eat foods or leftovers.
The third step for safe food preparation is thoroughly cooking your food. This includes the use of a food thermometer to confirm an appropriate internal temperature.
• Whole cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and rest for at least 3 minutes before serving.
• Ground meats should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Poultry (e.g., chicken and turkey), leftovers, and casseroles should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The final step to food safety is ensuring leftovers are adequately handled. Food that has been prepared can be out of refrigeration for up to 4 hours before needing refrigeration.
• Store leftovers in a refrigerator that is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
• Ensure leftovers are in closed containers above raw meats to prevent cross-contamination.
• Keep leftovers in refrigeration for no more than 3-5 days after preparation.
Following these easy steps will ensure your family and friends have a safe and healthy holiday meal. For information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.CDC.gov or contact Public Health at 801-586-9783.