Wellness Club — Holiday Food Safety

Wellness Club — Holiday Food Safety
Abingdon, VA. - Saturday, Dec 1, 2018.

by Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN, Food City Registered Dietitian

While we often focus on avoiding the flu this time of year, many times we forget about avoiding foodborne illness. Food is an integral part of the holiday season, but using proper food safety is key to making sure your meals are delicious and safe.

Food safety starts at the supermarket. When shopping for holiday groceries, keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from fresh foods in your cart. Shop the aisles first and buy cold foods last and refrigerate your foods promptly when you get home. Your refrigerator should be kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and it is a good idea to check the temperature with a thermometer every now and then to make sure your food is stored safely.

If you have any thawing to do, remember to thaw in the refrigerator, microwave, during cooking or under running water that is less than 70 degrees. Never thaw foods on the countertop. When it’s time to prepare your recipes, use separate cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread. Prep uncooked recipes like salads or desserts prior to cooking raw meat to avoid any cross-contamination from cooking utensils or surfaces. When cooking meats, use a thermometer to ensure the meat is done. Fresh beef, pork, or lamb should be cooked to 145 degrees, ground meats to 160 degrees, while all poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees.

If you are carrying food to another location for a holiday party, try as best you can to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using a crockpot or cooler for transport. You can also serve straight from the crockpot to keep hot foods at the proper temperature or use an ice tray for cold foods. Minimize the time the food is left on the countertop and discard perishable foods if they are left out longer than 2 hours. When you get home, store your leftovers right away in the refrigerator or freezer.

Use these safety tips for a happy and healthy holiday season filled with good family, friends, and of course, tasty food!