Safe Celebrations with Food Safety

by: Staci Jones-MS, RD, LD       

It’s officially that food and celebration time of year. People often ask me, what are the most important things to keep in mind when trying to keep food safe this time of year? I have come up with a list of things to keep in mind.
1.   Have a plan. Consider refrigerator, freezer and oven space. Keep hot foods at 140° or higher and cold foods at 40° or below. If you need to use coolers, have plenty of ice and check to make sure the ice hasn’t melted.
2.   Cook to proper temperature and use a thermometer. Turkeys, stuffing, and side dishes should  be cooked to at least 165° and kept above 140° during serving to be sure that any bacteria is destroyed.
 3.  Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of preparation
4.   Properly defrost your turkey. If you choose a frozen turkey, allow 24 hours per 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator.
5.   Wash all fresh produce.
6.   Reheat all leftovers to 165°.
7.   Wash your hands thoroughly and often; before, during and after food preparation. Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to minimize bacterial contamination and keep your food safe. Wash your hands for approximately 20 seconds using hot water and soap. Be sure to wash up to your wrist and between your fingers.
The U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world, but according to the CDC 76 million people get sick from food borne illness every year. People most at risk from food borne illness are the elderly, children, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system. So keep these tips in mind and have a safe and happy holiday season. 

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