Wellness Club — Holiday Food Safety

Wellness Club — Holiday Food Safety
Abingdon, VA. - Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020.

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

Even outside of a global pandemic, during this time of year we are focused on avoiding seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, but we often forget about avoiding foodborne illness. The holiday season is packed full of food-focused holidays, and proper food safety is key to making sure your meals are delicious and safe. 

Food safety starts at the supermarket in your grocery cart. When shopping for ingredients, keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from fresh foods in your cart. Try to be strategic about your route in the store: shop the aisles first and buy cold foods last. When you get home, refrigerate your foods promptly. Check your refrigerator temperature on a regular basis to make sure it is kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When you are ready to get cooking, remember to use proper practices for thawing foods. It is recommended to thaw in the refrigerator, microwave, during cooking or under running water that is less than 70 degrees. Never thaw foods on the countertop. You also want to handle raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables or bread. You may want to prepare uncooked recipes like salads or desserts prior to cooking raw meat to avoid any cross-contamination from utensils or kitchen surfaces. Also, make sure to cook meats to the proper temperature by using a food thermometer. 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. 

After the meal, minimize the time the food is left on the countertop and discard perishable foods if they are left out longer than 2 hours. Store your leftovers right away in the refrigerator or freezer. Most of the time leftovers last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for 3 to 4 months. If you are reheating leftovers, make sure to heat them to at least 165 degrees. 

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season filled with good times with family and of course, tasty food!