While this year’s holiday gatherings may be smaller this year, the desire to avoid the hospital or doctor’s is perhaps stronger. Avoid food-induced illness by making sure to follow these criteria to prevent food poisoning.
Cook Food Thoroughly
Cooking large birds or meat is not something that we do often. Make sure to follow the directions on the package to defrost and cook to the appropriate temperature per the packaging. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food, making sure to stay within the meat and not hitting a bone as that can lead to an inaccurate reading of the temperature.
Thaw Food Appropriately
Read the instructions on the turkey, if you are having one. Thawing must be done slowly in an ice bath, in the fridge or a cooler. Make sure to follow the thawing directions on the label of the items and refer to Food Safety Charts. When thawing in an ice bath, make sure to change the water when the ice is defrosted or every 30 minutes. And for the love, do not thaw your Turkey directly on your counter.
Keep Cold Things Cold
Anything that was made to stay cold like pies, egg-nog, dairy-based dishes and the like should remain cold upon serving. An increase in temperature to above 40 degrees Farenheiht is an increased risk for bacteria to grow leading to food-borne illness. Refrigerate or freeze any cold items and do not leave them out beyond 2 hours.
Keep Hot Things Hot
When you prepare hot foods like stuffing, potatoes, casseroles and meat dishes, they need to remain hot to avoid bacteria from growing. Bacteria growing in the food can lead to food-borne illness. Put away and refrigerate leftover food after 2 hours of being out.
Wash Your Hands
As if we need any other reminders to wash our hands in 2020, but you do. Before and after touching meat, vegetables or fruit, make sure to wash your hands. Especially when moving from raw meat to something else.
Wash knives and cutting boards
When cutting or preparing raw meat, vegetables and fruit, make sure to watch the knives, preparation tools and cutting boards in between each item. This prevents cross-contamination from raw chicken or beef between to fruits and vegetables.
Read the directions
This one is for all the people who like to wing it. Make sure to read the directions. Even fully prepped, meals ready-to-eat (not the brown envelope ones), have directions on reheating. While they can cook from frozen, make sure to cook to the correct internal temperature before fully digging in.
2020 has been a difficult year and it can feel difficult to find what we are grateful for. Keeping the tradition of a holiday meal, and time with no virtual school is worth a little celebration – especially keeping it safely. Happy and healthy eating to all!