To make sure you are spreading Holiday cheer instead of germs this Christmas season, include food safety as the main ingredient in your food preparation. To prevent food-borne illness from ruining the holidays, remember these four steps: Clean, separate, cook, and chill. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has provided these 10 easy tips to follow.
Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces often.
1. Wash hands in warm, soapy water before, during and after food preparation. Remember to wash hands when switching task, such as handling raw meat and then cutting vegetables.
– Try singing two choruses of “Happy Birthday” while you lather up, cleaning your hands for 20 seconds. Remember to always wash your hands front and back up to your wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
2. Keep kitchen surfaces such as appliances, countertops, cutting boards and utensils clean throughout meal preparation with hot, soapy water.
Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods.
3. Always use two cutting boards: one for raw meat, poultry and fish and the other for ready-to-eat foods, like fruits and vegetables. You can make it easy to remember by using color-coded boards.
4. Use separate spoons and forks to taste, stir and serve food.
Cook: Cook to the right temperature.
5. Use a food thermometer. It is the ONLY reliable way to determine the doneness of your food and ensure that food is cooked to proper temperatures. (Do not rely on “clear juices” to tell that the turkey is done.)
– This quick, at-a-glance reference helps you keep track of proper internal temperatures for all your favorite meat dishes.
– Download this app to your Smartphone and easily get the answer to your question “Is my food safe?”
Chill: Refrigerate food promptly.
6. Refrigerate food within two hours of being served to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. This is especially important when serving buffets.
7. Use a refrigerator thermometer and make sure it’s set at below 40⁰ F.
8. Never allow foods to defrost at room temperature, on the counter or in warm water. Defrost food only in the refrigerator or in the microwave. When defrosting food in the refrigerator, remember to cover raw meat and place it on the bottom shelf so juices won’t drip onto other foods. When defrosting food in the microwave, cook it immediately afterward.
9. If taking food to parties, make sure to observe the same safety habits as at home – keep foods well-refrigerated and cook them to proper temperatures.
10. When baking, avoid eating foods containing raw eggs like cookie dough or cake batter. Raw eggs may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to food poisoning.
Sources: foodsafety.gov, homefoodsafety.org and eatright.org