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Holiday food safety tips

For many of us, the holiday season means celebrations with family, friends, co-workers, and most importantly – food. No matter where you're gathering or what you're preparing, be sure everyone is taking the food safety precautions needed to keep everyone safe.

Not sure where to start? Steritech has compiled an extensive list of food safety tips to help you keep all of your guests safe from foodborne illness. Download our infographic for the full list of holiday food safety tips.

 

Holiday tips

Thaw your turkey safely

The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in a pan on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, allowing the pan to catch any liquid. The general rule of thumb is 24 hours of thaw time for every 5 pounds of meat. If you thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the countertop, it can allow bacteria to grow, making it unsafe to eat.

For other ways to thaw a turkey safely, please visit the USDA’s website.

Don’t consume raw dough

Although tempting, do not eat raw dough or batter for cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits, etc. Raw eggs can be dangerous to consume and may contain Salmonella. Uncooked flour can also harbor bacteria such as E. coli.

Wash produce

Make sure to thoroughly scrub or rinse all your produce under running water to remove surface dirt. It’s important to note that cutting through produce, like melons, can transfer bacteria from the surface into the flesh of the fruit or vegetable. Of course, prewashed produce is ready-to-eat but if you choose to rewash it, use a clean sink and utensil to prevent cross-contamination.

 

Be aware of food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks

Food recalls and foodborne illness can strike at any time for all kinds of products. Be sure to pay attention to news reports and government agency updates about recalls and outbreaks leading up to your holiday event so you can remove any high-risk foods from your menu.

 

Turkey and other protein cooking temperatures

Ensuring the right internal temperatures for your holiday meats is vitally important. Consuming undercooked meat can cause food-borne illness, making your guests extremely sick. Roast your turkey at no lower than 325°F (163°C). You can’t tell if meat is safely cooked just by looking at it, so make sure to always use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer at the densest part of foods and check for these internal temperatures:

  • Turkey/Poultry: 165°F (74°C)
  • Beef Roast: 145°F (63°C)
  • Ground Beef/Pork: 155°F (68°C)
  • Plant-based Proteins: Follow label instructions - if none are present, 165°F (74°C)

 

Avoid cross-contamination

In between cooking tasks, thoroughly wash counters, cutting boards, utensils, and hands with hot, soapy water to prevent cross-contamination. Additionally, use separate utensils and prep areas (cutting boards, counters, etc.) for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods. Although these steps may seem tedious, it is your responsibility to ensure that the food being prepared for your guests is completely safe to consume.

 

COVID-19 safety tips for catered / non-household events

Provide your guests with hand sanitizer, practice social distancing, and wear masks when not eating. Consider having boxed lunches for your event and request individually packaged items/utensils, where practical. Make sure serving utensils are available to prevent bare hand contact. If you’re having multiple deliveries, meet drivers outside to prevent extra traffic inside.

 

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