The holiday season is a great time to create memories with family and friends...and of course, indulge in your favorite holiday foods. If you’re cooking or even lending a hand in the kitchen this year, be sure that everyone is practicing food safety.
Steritech has compiled this extensive list of food safety tips to help you keep all of your guests safe from foodborne illness.
Have a happy and safe season, from all of us at Steritech.
- The safest way to thaw frozen turkey is in the refrigerator.
- Place in a pan on the bottom shelf to catch any liquid.
- General rule: 24 hours of thaw time for every 5 pounds of meat.
- Thawing turkey by leaving it out on the countertop can allow bacteria to grow.
- For other ways to thaw a turkey safely, please visit the USDA’s website on the matter.
- Thoroughly rinse all produce under running water to remove surface dirt.
- Even pre-washed produce should be rinsed.
- Cutting through produce, like melons, can transfer bacteria from the surface into the flesh of the fruit or vegetable.
Turkey and other protein cooking
- Roast your turkey at no lower than 325°F (163°C).
- You can’t tell if meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Always use a meat thermometer Insert a meat 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)
- Fresh Ham - 160°F (71°C)
- Fully-cooked Ham - 140°F (60°C)
Stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you live)
- Food safety experts advise cooking stuffing in a separate dish.
- Stuffing inside the bird can be contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella.
- If you’re a stuffing traditionalist, stuffing cooked inside the bird should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).
Don’t consume raw dough
- Do not eat raw dough or batter for cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits, etc.
- Raw eggs can be dangerous to consume – they may contain Salmonella.
- Uncooked flour can also harbor bacteria such as E. coli.
- Between tasks, wash counters, cutting boards, utensils, and hands with hot, soapy water.
- Use separate utensils, tools, and prep areas for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.
Be allergy aware
- Food allergies can be life-threatening.
- The 8 most common food allergens are: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.
- Ask guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies.
- Alert your guests of any allergens in food you prepare.
- Trace amounts of allergens can cause a reaction. If your guests have allergies, do not allow allergens to get into food – don’t mix utensils, mixing bowls, etc.
Keep leftovers safe to eat
- Cool and store leftovers properly to prevent bacteria growth.
- Break large and thick foods into smaller portions.
- Use shallow containers for quicker cooling.
- Don’t tightly cover containers until food is fully cooled.
- Cool hot foods to at least 70°F (21°C) within 2 hours; then to 41°F (5°C) or below within a total of 6 hours from the initial start of cooling.
- Freeze leftovers that won’t be eaten within 3-4 days.
- Reheat leftovers to at least 165°F (74°C).
Seasonal drink safety
- Purchase eggnog, apple cider, and other seasonal beverages labeled PASTEURIZED to avoid potentially harmful pathogens.
If you’re transporting food
- Keep raw poultry and other meat separated from ready-to-eat foods to avoid accidental cross-contamination.
- Use insulated carriers or coolers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.