Holiday Food Safety Tips

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We talked about turkey safety already back in November and now that Christmas is coming up it's time for some additional food safety steps you should take when hosting the 'big meal'. Here are five that'll get you started.

1. Stick to the two-hour rule:
Don't leave food out on the table for more than two hours. After two hours bacteria can multiply to harmful levels and cause illness. Two hours may seem like a long window of time. But remember these two hours starts from the time that food either came out of the oven or the refrigerator or off the stove. If you're serving appetizers we tend to forget about them and leave our sour cream and chip dips out for several hours. And all that food at the dinner table often does get put away right away. Check your watch every time you serve or put any food out and keep track of those two hours.

2. Store leftovers properly:
Put away leftovers in a refrigerator that is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Use shallow containers so foods cool more quickly. Do not wait for hot foods to 'cool' before refrigerating! That's just asking for trouble.

3. Wash a lot!
Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food. If you pet the pet, wash them again. If you're handling raw meat, poultry or fish and switch to vegetables or some other food, wash not only your hands again but the surface you just used, with warm water and soap (or see #4). When in doubt, wash. This cuts the risk of cross-contamination.

4. Speaking of cross contamination:
Use different cutting boards for produce than for raw meat, poultry and fish.

5. Wash all fruits and vegetables well:
Under running water (not in a bowl of water or otherwise) thoroughly rinse all produce, even those with rinds and peels. Bacteria can live on the rind and peel and then contaminate whatever they come into contact with (your hands, a knife).

Stay safe and for more food safety tips visit www.fightbac.org

(photo courtesy of Pengrin)
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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