December 5, 2019

Food Safety Tips for the Holidays

Food Safety Tips for the Holidays

It’s the season to spend time with family and friends. One common theme that continuously brings people together during this time of year is food! With food being a main part of most holiday parties, food safety is key for a healthful holiday and preventing food-borne illness.


Always wash your hands with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food. To effectively wash your hands, spend at least 20 seconds lathering and washing under warm running water. In the kitchen, make sure to re-wash hands after

  • Preparing or handling raw meat or eggs
  • Using the restroom
  • Switching food preparation tasks
  • Handling garbage or dirty dishes

Safe Handling and Holding of Food

It is important to thaw food safely and cook food thoroughly in the kitchen. Make sure to thaw turkey or any other kind of meat in the refrigerator or immersed in cold water. Never set out meat on the counter to thaw where bacteria can grow. Cook meat to a safe internal temperature. Pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160 °F, turkey and chicken 165° F, and steaks, roasts, and chops to 145° F.  When serving food at your holiday get together, avoid setting food out too long at room temperature. Food can safely be held for 2 hours. After two hours, place food in the oven at 140°F or store in the refrigerator.

Storing Leftovers

Properly storing leftovers involves knowing how to store foods and the length of time that food items can be kept. Safe ways to store leftovers include refrigeration and freezing. Other tips to consider include the following:

  • Store leftover cooked food in the refrigerator as soon as possible or within 2 hours. Use shallow containers to allow quick cooling. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. When it is time to enjoy them again, reheat only what you’ll be eating instead of the entire portion.
  • Freezing leftovers keeps food safe preventing the growth of bacteria. Food should be frozen at 0° F and is best consumed within two to three months of freezing.
  • When cooking leftovers, reheat to 165° F, using a food thermometer to measure the temperature. When reheating sauces and soups, bring them to a boil to destroy any bacteria.