Holiday food safety dos and don’ts

Don’t let foodborne illnesses spoil your event.

Being aware of holiday food safety dos and don’ts can keep a food borne illness from spoiling the festivities.

Holiday food safety do’s include:

  • Do thaw frozen food safely. Thaw either in the refrigerator, under running cool water, or in the microwave provided you will cook the food right away. Another option is to cook the frozen food from the frozen state, although additional cooking time may be needed.
  • Do shop safely. Avoid foods where the packaging has been damaged. When ordering for food for home delivery, make sure someone is home to receive it. When shopping leave the cold and frozen foods on your list for pick up just before you check out.
  • Do wash, rinse, and sanitize all utensils and cutting boards before and after use. This will help prevent cross-contamination.
  • Do wash rinse and sanitize all counter tops and sinks before even starting to prepare food. Then wash, rinse and sanitize the counter tops on a regular basis.
  • Do wash the hands and wash them often to cut down on cross-contamination and the spread of illness. Michigan State University Extension recommends that hands should be washed a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Twenty second is the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself two times.
  • Do keep hot food s hot and cold foods cold. Keep perishable foods out of the temperature danger zone of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold food s should be kept refrigerated until just before serving and then put them on a bed of ice.
  • Hot foods should be kept in the oven until just before serving or in warmers.
  • Do remember the two hour rule. Never let perishable food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

Holiday food safety don’ts include:

  • Don’t eat raw cookie dough. Raw cookie dough contains a number of ingredients that need to be cooked before it can be eaten.
  • Don’t thaw frozen food out on the counter. This causes time and temperature abuse and promotes the growth of bacteria.
  • Don’t use the same utensils and cutting board for raw and ready-to-eat foods. This will cause cross-contamination and the spread of food borne illness bacteria. To prepare raw and ready-to-eat foods be sure the cutting board and utensils are washed, rinsed, and sanitized between the foods.
  • Don’t taste the foods with the stirring spoon or utensil. If you must taste the food while cooking use a clean utensil each time.
  • Don’t leave food out on the buffet all afternoon. Remember the two hour rule to avoid time temperature abuse.
  • Don’t prepare for other while you are sick, particularly if you are vomiting or have diaherra. Have someone else prepare the food or postpone the party.
  • Don’t let the pets in the kitchen while you are preparing food. No one likes unpleasant surprises of dog or cat hair in their food not to mention what germs they carry. 

By doing some careful planning and following the do’s of food safety, food borne illness should not be a guest at your party. Remember to wash the hands and wash them often. Avoid time and temperature abuse of perishable foods.

These tips can go a long way to prevent food borne illness from happening.

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