By: Meaghan Points, Registered Dietitian
Holiday season is full for great foods and wonderful family time. When cooking for the holidays it is very easy to overlook food safety. Making sure that foods are cooked to a proper temperature, remain proper temperature while being served, and are also not being cross contaminated when being prepared are very important. Not being aware of these things can cause food-borne illnesses very quickly. To avoid anyone (or everyone) getting ill from foods that you are serving be sure that you remember these basic food safety guidelines.
Do not only wash them when starting to cook. Wash them thoroughly and often to prevent cross contamination. Proper technique to washing hands is to scrub 20-30seconds, under hot water, with soup, and wash your wrist area also.
To defrost a frozen meat in a healthy way, you should leave the frozen meat in the refrigerator and let it slowly defrost. It should not be done on the kitchen counter. Another alternative would be to defrost in the sink in a cold water bath. The bath water should be changed regularly to keep the water cold.
Even wash prepackaged produce that states it has been washed to make sure all bacteria is removed. When preparing fresh produce, check your surroundings and ensure they are clean as well including counters, sponges, knives, etc.
Meats should be cooked to at least 165 degrees and remain above 140 degrees when serving. Highest bacteria growth can happen between the temperatures of 40-140 degrees. Use a food thermometer to avoid falling into that range.
Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers and be in the refrigerator within 2 hours after cooking is complete. Shallow containers will ensure that foods are cooled thoroughly around the same time and do not continue to be hot in the middle which is likely to happen when containers are overstuffed.Reheat food to 165 degrees. Leftovers need to be reheated to the original cooking temperature. This will kill some of the bacteria that has grown on foods since the initial cooking and cooling time.This information was obtained from this website. There is more great information to be found on it! http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm188807.htm