With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your menu. But with so many options to choose from, you may find yourself wondering how to prepare your favorite dishes without sacrificing food safety.
After all, there are plenty of opportunities for foodborne illness during the holidays. You’re likely to be cooking and preparing food at home more frequently with family and friends stopping by for parties or dinner. And your guests are likely to be bringing their own favorite dishes as well. In addition, you may be traveling to visit friends or family, which could mean eating at restaurants that you’re not familiar with.
- The most important thing you can do is make sure that you keep food at proper temperatures. Heating food properly kills pathogens that cause food-borne illness, while keeping cooked foods hot prevents them from becoming a risk again. Cold foods should stay cold at all times, too.
- Cook your turkey thoroughly — no pink inside — and make sure that it’s done in the thickest part of the meat. And don’t forget the stuffing! Thoroughly cook anything containing eggs or meat because they’re particularly vulnerable to bacteria.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for fresh produce and raw meats; wash them well with hot, soapy water after preparing each type of food.
- Never place cooked meat on an unwashed platter that previously held raw meat or poultry; cook eggs until yolks are firm and whites are completely set.
- Treat a dip, spread or topping that contains meat as you would a meat dish; refrigerate within two hours, and use within three days.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water. Wash your hands before and after handling food, before eating or preparing food.