Holiday Food Safety Tips

— Written By and last updated by

The holidays are near. Time to be thankful, enjoy family, friends and food. While it’s great to enjoy all of the greatness that the holidays bring, it’s also important to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by practicing food safety. I would like to remind you of a few tips that will help keep everyone safe during this holiday season.

Tip #1: Clean- Wash hands and surfaces often. Food Safety logo

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash food contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt. Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking in order to avoid spreading bacteria to areas around the sink and countertops. The heat (not rinsing with water) from cooking the raw meat and poultry will kill any bacteria that may be on the food.

Tip #2: Separate- Separate raw meats from other foods.

  • When shopping in the store, storing food in the refrigerator at home, or preparing meals, keep foods that will not be cooked separate from raw eggs, meat, poultry or seafood, and from kitchen utensils used for those products.
  • Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked (such as raw meat, poultry, and seafood) and another one for those that will not (such as raw fruits and vegetables).
  • Do not put cooked meat or other food that is ready to eat on any unwashed plate that has held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.

Tip #3: Cook- Cook to the right temperature.

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  •  Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs, liquid or frozen pasteurized egg products, or powdered egg whites.
  •  Do not eat Uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.

Tip #4: Chill- Refrigerate food promptly.

  • Refrigerate leftovers, takeout foods and any type of food that should be refrigerated, including pie-within 2 hours.
  • Set your refrigerator at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. Check both periodically with an appliance thermometer.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave, never at room temperature. Cook food thawed in cold water or in the microwave immediately.
  • Allow enough time to properly thaw food. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs 4-5 days to thaw completely in the refrigerator.
  • Do not taste food that looks or smell questionable. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Leftovers should be used within 3-4 days unless frozen. By keeping these four words in mind; Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill, you will be doing your best to keep you and your loved ones safe. Please keep the above tips in mind not only during the holiday season but throughout the year.

References. USDA