Here are some ways you can prevent food poisoning during the holidays:
- Keep foods separated. Keep meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods 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.” Bacteria 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 Caesar dressing. Always use pasteurized eggs when making these and other foods made with raw eggs.
- Do not eat raw dough or batter. Dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs, such as E.coli and Salmonella. Do not taste or eat raw dough or batter that is meant to be baked or cooked. This includes dough or batter for cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, pizza, or crafts. Do not let children taste raw dough or batter or play with dough at home or in restaurants. Some companies and stores offer edible cookie dough that uses 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.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Submitted by Ashley Wild