Food safety isn’t always the first thing everyone thinks about when planning for the holidays. While your source of the food supply is safe, some people can be at risk of foodborne illnesses.
During the holidays, maintaining food safety can be challenging. Not only is it the flu and cold season, but the menu may include more dishes than there’s room for in the oven or refrigerator. Add those to the food brought by relatives and friends who have traveled for several hours and been exposed to pollutants, and it can be difficult to recall the best kitchen practices.
To keep your holidays memorable and enjoyable, here are the food safety tips you should consider:
Keep Your Kitchen Clean
Regardless of how busy you are during the holidays, you should always pay importance to environmental hygiene in the kitchen. Before and after preparing every food item, clean your kitchen equipment and other food-contact surfaces—such as countertops, utensils, dishes, and cutting boards.
When cleaning your kitchen, you can use a sanitizer or commercial disinfectant. If you don’t want to use commercial cleaners, you can create a do-it-yourself cleaning solution by combining a small amount of chlorine bleach and water.
Don’t Eat Raw Batter Or Dough
Batter and dough made with eggs or flour may contain harmful germs, including salmonella and E. coli. Never eat or taste raw batter or dough that’s meant to be cooked or baked. This includes batter or dough for pies, pancakes, cookies, biscuits, or cakes.
You should also keep your children away from it. If you want to prepare dishes with your kids, you can try some kid-friendly recipes instead for worry-free cooking sessions.
Go for cookie dough that uses pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour. Before you prepare it, read the label thoroughly to ensure it’s meant to be eaten without cooking or baking.
While shopping, keep the seafood, poultry, or meat in separate plastic bags and away from some food in your cart. If you’re preparing different dishes simultaneously, use a separate cutting board for perishables and raw meat.
If you need to use the same cutting board or knives, clean them before you prepare the other dishes. You should also avoid putting cooked meat and other food that’s ready to eat on unwashed plates containing raw items, including seafood, meat, eggs, meat, and poultry.
Leaving any food exposed for an extended period is a common holiday food safety mistake. Although you can quickly lose track of time when families and friends are around, refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
Your refrigerator must not be overpacked, and ensure there’s plenty of air circulating your leftovers to be appropriately cooled. Use small food containers to break down a huge amount of leftovers. You may also cut the remaining meat off the bone to make it easy to store and let it cool to the proper temperature.
Follow The Recommended Cooking Instructions
When cooking any meal, follow the recommended instructions, particularly about reheating temperatures and storage suggestions. A food thermometer may be handy to ensure your food is cooked well.
Below are some of the guidelines to remember when preparing your holiday meals:
- Poultry must not be washed before cooking, as it may spread bacteria.
- Cook ground lamb, pork, and beef at not more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you’re cooking a turkey, ensure it’s completely thawed before you cook it.
- Wash Your Hands
One of the common food-borne illnesses is norovirus, which can be transmitted through unwashed hands. This may sound simple, but you might forget this simple rule once you get busy.
Wash your hands before you handle food or eat. You should also wash your hands after using the bathroom. Before setting out a dish, consider washing your hands with water and soap for 20 seconds.
Use Pasteurized Eggs For Meals Containing Raw Eggs
Harmful germs like salmonella may live inside and outside of a normal-looking egg. Unfortunately, most holiday favorites contain raw eggs, including Caesar dressing, tiramisu, eggnog, and hollandaise sauce. Consider using pasteurized eggs when making these dishes and other healthy recipes with raw eggs.
Unlike regular eggs, pasteurized eggs have undergone pasteurization, which kills dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella.
Enjoying food with friends and family is one of the holiday season highlights. Whether it’s your first time making a dish or you’re an experienced holiday cook, keep the above food safety tips in mind to ensure you, your family, and your friends don’t get sick with food-borne illnesses and instead enjoy the holidays thoroughly.