Nobody likes to get sick, especially around the holidays. According to the CDC, there are 128,000 hospitalizations and 3000 deaths each year due to food borne illness. With statistics like that, it is important to make sure you are following proper food safety techniques. Fightbac.org separates holiday food safety into three categories:
Shopping For Your Feast
- Make sure there is room in your fridge and freezer. If they are stuffed too full, the air can’t circulate properly. This may prevent the temperature from staying as cool as it needs to, to keep food safe.
- As you are filling up your shopping cart, keep raw meat and poultry away from other items. Meat and poultry contain large amounts bacteria in their raw form. Keeping them separate from other items in your cart helps prevent that bacteria from spreading. Many grocery stores offer plastic bags to place your meat and poultry in before you put it in your shopping cart. They may also have hand sanitizer on site in case you come in contact with drippings. Take advantage of those items for an extra layer of protection.
- Keep chemicals, like house cleaning supplies, away from your food in your shopping cart.
- When you get home, store food that needs to be refrigerated or frozen promptly.
Preparing Your Feast
- Wash your hands, surfaces, utensils before you beginning food preparation, between each step of the process, and when you are finished. It is especially important to wash after handing raw meat and poultry.
- Properly thaw your turkey and other frozen foods. You can download a copy of our Turkey Talk brochure by clicking here. Keep it on hand as a quick reference to help you with proper thawing techniques.
- Temperature is the only indicator that food is cooked safely. Keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees) and cold foods cold (below 40 degrees), until ready to serve. The danger zone between these two temperatures is a breeding ground for bacteria. The best way to tell if your food is the right temperature is by using a food thermometer.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables just before eating unless they are marked “ready-to-eat” or pre-washed. This helps remove any bacteria or potentially harmful substances that might be present.
Eating Your Leftovers
- Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to test the temperature.
- If you find yourself with lots of leftovers, be sure to discard or freeze them within 3 to 4 days. Gravy should be discarded or frozen after 2 days. After that, the risk for food poisoning increases.
Speaking of leftovers, here’s one of my favorite recipes using Thanksgiving leftovers.
This recipe puts your leftover turkey and mashed potatoes to good use. You might also try adding leftover stuffing to the mix.
Check back next week for a post all about using Thanksgiving leftovers. They’ll be recipes for soup, muffins, sandwiches, and more. Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
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