Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Healthy Holidays: Food safety spreads holiday cheer

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, family gatherings, and of course – food! Holiday gatherings are all merry and bright until someone gets a foodborne illness. Food safety should be on the minds of all people who handle food. 

When you think about it, we all handle food.  Although not everyone does the cooking, many help set the table, put out the food buffet-style, and a lot of us reheat leftovers. Plus, we handle food 
when we eat it! 

Holiday leftovers are often a perk of the season, but did you know that mishandled leftovers are responsible for tens of thousands of cases of post Christmas associated illnesses? 

It’s important to remember that we all play a role in food safety.
  • First and foremost – wash your hands thoroughly before handling or serving any food, including before you eat. We may not touch other people’s food, but we tend to touch the same serving dishes and utensils.
  • When preparing food, always start with clean hands, cutting boards, and utensils.
  • Keep items used with raw meats separate from other foods.
  • Cook foods thoroughly and use a food thermometer to measure internal temperatures.
    • 160 ºF for pork, steak, and roasts
    • 160 ºF egg dishes and ground meats
    • 165 ºF for poultry and leftovers
  • Keep hot foods hot (above 135 ºF) and cold foods cold (below 41 ºF).
  • Dish smaller amounts of hot foods into chafing dishes and keep the rest in the oven or on the stove. Dish smaller amounts of cold food to keep on ice while keeping the rest in the refrigerator.  
  • Foods kept at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. Only keep leftovers from the party if they were kept hot or cold during the party.
  • If leftovers are not cooled or reheated properly, there is a risk of foodborne illness. Remember - When in doubt, throw it out!

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