With Holiday season upon us, the rush to get all of your food prepared can make you want to cut corners in order to make sure everything gets on the table in time. But did you know that foodborne diseases cause roughly 76 million people to become sick each year?
If you’re cooking for just a few people, or a large group, there are a few safety tips that can help you prevent sickness while still getting everything prepared in a timely manner.
One of the most important parts of cooking is cleaning. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food. If you’re dealing with different types of food items, be sure to wash your utensils as you move from one to another. Bacteria from meats can easily transfer from your utensils to your other dishes, causing diseases like Salmonella and E. coli.
Tip: After you complete a dish, clean up all of your tools and utensils before moving to the next one. If you have multiple dishes going, keep all tools, utensils, and ingredients separated. This will take a little more time, but you’ll be thankful in the long run!
It can be hard to resist nibbling on your food as you cook it all, but make sure that the standard internal temperatures are met to ensure everything is thoroughly cooked:
Turkey, stuffing, casseroles, leftovers: 165°F
Beef, veal, lamb roasts: 145°F
Ham, pork, egg dishes: 160°F
Tip: Never thaw your items, especially meat, at room temperature. This can cause the food to sit at a danger zone (between 40°F and 140°F) where bacteria can grow faster than normal. Use a sink of cold water or your microwave to do the job quickly and efficiently.
Leftovers can be the best part of your holiday meals, but often account for a big portion of foodborne illnesses. After eating, make sure to put your leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours. Keeping your refrigerator at or below 40°F is the easiest way to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading.
Tip: Keep your pies and egg-based desserts in the refrigerator until right before they are to be served. This gives you plenty of time to get all of the dinner items cleaned up before bringing out another dish.
To keep your family and friends safe this holiday season, make sure you’re keeping everything clean, cooked, and chilled at the appropriate times. If you do experience symptoms of illness between 6 to 24 hours after your meal, please contact your doctor, or visit Weirton Medical Center today.