Arch Health Medical Group

Holiday Food Safety

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  • 21 Dec 2015
  • Health & Wellness
  • Arch Health
  • Nutrition

Holiday Food Safety Tips from Janice Baker, Registered Dietitian

Holiday (& Everyday) Food Safety and Storage….minimize your risk of foodborne illness!
 
  • Make sure everyone handling food washes their hands before, during and after food preparation.

  • Keep kitchen surfaces — such as appliances, countertops, cutting boards and utensils — clean with hot, soapy water throughout meal preparation.

  • Use two cutting boards: one for raw meat, poultry and fish and the other for ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables.

  • Use separate spoons and forks to stir, taste and serve food.

  • To prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, thaw frozen turkey and other meats in a refrigerator set below 40°F or in the microwave. Never thaw meats on the kitchen counter, in the oven or under hot water in the sink.

  • When defrosting food in the refrigerator, cover raw meat and place it on the bottom shelf so juices don't drip onto other foods.

  • After defrosting food in the microwave, cook it immediately afterward.

  • If you are pressed for time, thaw a wrapped frozen turkey (breast-side down) in a sink filled with cold tap water. Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes.

  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure meats reach a safe internal temperature. This is the only reliable way to determine the doneness of your food.

  • Cook whole turkeys to 165°F. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer at the innermost part of the thigh. If you're cooking a stuffed turkey, be sure stuffing reaches 165°F before serving.

  • Cook holiday hams and pork roasts to 145°F.*
    * Allow to rest 3 minutes before carving or consuming.

  • To kill harmful bacteria, bring gravy to a steady boil on the stove before serving.

  • This rule also applies to leftover gravy. Simply microwaving leftover gravy until it is hot is not sufficient to kill harmful bacteria.

  • Whether served family-style or as a buffet, festive feasts often last for hours. After more than two hours, bacteria rapidly begin to multiply on perishable food items. For longer gatherings, keep some fresh food in the fridge to bring out at the two-hour mark.

  • It's a common mistake to let cooked foods cool before they go into the refrigerator. To chill a dish for serving or storage, promptly place it in the refrigerator after cooking. This ensures freshness and safety.

  • Set your refrigerator below 40°F and your freezer below 0°F.

  • Store leftovers in airtight, shallow containers (two inches deep or less).

  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking the food. Remove turkey from the bone and store it separately from the stuffing and gravy. You can leave sliced breast meat, legs and wings whole.

  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F. Bring leftover gravy to a steady boil on the stove before serving it a second time.

  • Use refrigerated cooked turkey within three to four days. Use stuffing and gravy within one to two days.

  • Eat leftover casseroles and cooked vegetables within three to four days.

  • Finish fruit, cream pies and cheese cake within two to three days. Regardless of how many days have passed: If in doubt, throw it out!

  • When baking cookies, cakes or brownies that include eggs as an ingredient, resist the temptation to taste raw dough or batter. Raw eggs may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. Cook treats before surrendering to your sweet tooth.

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