Thursday, December 20, 2018

Winter Holiday Food Safety

As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous. Follow these steps to keep your holiday season food poisoning-free.

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

  1. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
  2. Buy cold foods last.
  3. Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

  1. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  2. Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
  3. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 ˚F with a three minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 ˚F; ground beef, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160 ˚F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 ˚F; and all poultry should be cooked to 165 ˚F.

Fool proof tips when cooking for groups:

  1. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.
  2. Use several small plates when serving food.
  3. Discard perishable foods left out for 2 hours or more.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

  1. Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  2. Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  3. To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 ˚F, the roast is safe to eat.
  4. Remember all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

General Information
Mail-Order Food Safety (USDA)
Checklists for ensuring that foods you send and receive by mail are safe.

Chart: Safe Handling of Mail-Order Foods (USDA)
Storage recommendations for mail-order meats, seafood, cheeses, fruits, and more.

Mailing and Receiving a Perishable Food Gift (FDA)
How to be sure that food arrives safely during holiday shipping.

Holiday or Party Buffets (USDA)
When foods are left out for long periods, you may have uninvited guests — bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Brochure (PDF - 105KB)

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