Is your kitchen ready for holiday cooking and baking?

Before beginning the holiday cooking and baking, take time to evaluate the safety of your kitchen.

If you are like most people during this timePots and pans on stove. of year, some of your holiday traditions will include food. Whether it is your turkey and secret stuffing recipe, famous pumpkin pie, holiday ham or various special holiday cookies and treats, many of us will spend extra time in the kitchen from now until the New Year preparing wonderful foods to share with family and friends. Michigan State University Extension recommends that before beginning the cooking and baking in your kitchen, you take some time to consider a few food safety tips for the holidays. With it already being flu season and having germs around, you want to make sure that you aren’t sharing other bacteria through food that can lead to any foodborne illness during the holiday season.

Before the holiday cooking and baking begins, remember the following:

  • Clean hands and clean counter-tops – It might sound simple, but ensuring that before you begin preparing any type of food, you have thoroughly washed your hands (at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water) and have cleaned and sanitized all counter-tops, workspaces and utensils, which can help stop the spread of bacteria around your kitchen and to your food. Be sure to have soap, paper towels and sanitizers in the kitchen to keep everything clean.
  • Purchase freezer bags or freezer wrap for holiday treats such as cookies that you may bake ahead of time and freeze for later use.
  • Check refrigerator thermometers – Be sure your refrigerator has a thermometer and that it is working. The refrigerator temperature needs to be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep food safe from bacteria. We often overload refrigerators during the holidays with thawing turkeys or other meats, prepped food items and leftovers. Refrigerator temperature is critical for safe food!
  • Proper refrigerator and freezer space – Make sure that you have adequate space in your refrigerator for additional food items, especially if you are hosting or cooking a large holiday meal. A thawing turkey takes up a large amount of space in a refrigerator, as do leftovers and additional holiday foods.
  • Food thermometers – Be sure to have your food thermometer on hand for checking your turkey and stuffing as it cooks. Both items need to be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also remember to check the temperatures of food when you are reheating it for later consumption to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not recommended to rely on the pop-up timers found in some meat products. Always use your own thermometer to check the temperature for safety.
  • Rotate food products and discard expired food items – As you are moving items in your refrigerator to find a place for the turkey to thaw; it is a great time to check expiration dates on items in the refrigerator. Discard any item that has passed its use by date. This will free up extra space in your refrigerator for holiday goodies.

The upcoming holidays are such a wonderful time o

f year to share with family and friends. I know I have a few favorite holiday treats I am waiting to enjoy. Get your kitchens ready for holiday food preparation so you can make sure you don’t share any foodborne illness along with the family times and holiday memories.

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