Food Safety for the Holidays

When we think of the holidays, we usually think of family and friends together having fun and lots of good food. We don't want to think about people getting sick. Unfortunately, many people do get sick at this time of year from the food they eat.

During the holiday season, there may be several times when people could get sick from the food they eat. The foods that we are most likely to eat, at this time of year, are no more likely to make us sick than foods we eat at other times. The problems Wine from the way food is prepared, served,, and stored. Often we have more people, are fixing larger amounts of food and serving it over a longer period of time than we are used to.

Sometimes we do not have enough space to store all of the food that needs to be refrigerated. Sometimes we get busy visiting and forget to put the food away right after the meal.

No one wants to serve food that might make their guests sick. As you plan and prepare for the holidays this year, plan carefully to make sure your food will be safe.

Here are some tips to help you as you plan for holiday parties:

1. On the serving table, never put fresh food into the same bowl that has already had food in it. Remove the old bowl and put a clean bowl of fresh food in its place. Also, use a clean serving spoon.

2 Do not partly cook food ahead of time and finish cooking later. Cook foods until they are done.

3. If foods are fixed early, keep refrigerated until time to eat.

4. After the meal, take any leftover meat from bones and refrigerate in small containers. Use refrigerated leftover turkey and stuffing within three to four days and gravy within one to two days.

5. Cooked foods such as meat, turkey, chicken, stuffing, and dishes containing eggs or dairy products should be at room temperature no more than a total of two hours.

6. Turkey should be cooked at 325 degrees F. for 15 to 18 minutes per pound. A meat thermometer put in the thickest part of a turkey thigh should read 180 degrees F. This will ensure that the turkey is cooked.

7. Do not serve foods that have raw eggs. In eggnog and other recipes that use raw eggs, egg substitutes may be used or better yet, look for recipes that cook the eggs.

8. Always thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water (change the water every thirty (30) minutes).

9. Always work with clean spoons and counter tops. Wash your hands often when fixing and serving food.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure that your holiday parties will be fun and safe.

Prepared by: Barbara Farner, Nutrition and Wellness Educator, Kankakee Extension Center, Manteno

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