Food Safety for the Holidays
Prevent Food Poisoning During the Holidays
Feasting with family is part of many holiday celebrations. Follow these tips to help prevent food poisoning, or foodborne illness, during the holidays.
- Keep foods separated. Keep meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from meat, chicken, turkey, and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags. Store eggs in their original carton in the main compartment of the refrigerator.
- Cook food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs have been cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill germs. Roasts, chops, steaks, and fresh ham should rest for 3 minutes after you remove them from the oven or grill.
- Keep food out of the “danger zone.” Germs can grow rapidly in the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F. After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze perishable food like meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, eggs, cut fruit, cooked rice, and leftovers within 2 hours (1 hour if food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, such as in a hot car). The temperature in your refrigerator should be set at 40°F or below and the freezer at 0°F or below.
- Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs. Salmonella and other harmful germs can live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs. Many holiday favorites contain raw eggs, including eggnog, tiramisu, hollandaise sauce, and salad dressings. Always use pasteurized eggs when making these and other foods made with raw eggs.
- Know that raw flour and eggs can have germs. Uncooked dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs, such as E. coli and Salmonella. This includes dough or batter for cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, pizza, or crafts. Some companies and stores offer edible cookie dough made with heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs or no eggs. Read the label carefully to make sure the dough is meant to be eaten without baking or cooking.
- Thaw your turkey safely. Thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Do not thaw turkey or other foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly. Learn more about preparing turkey safely.
- Wash your hands with soap and water during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- After feeding pets
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After touching garbage
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing