Holiday Cookies Side

  • Wash your hands and all food containers thoroughly
  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods
  • Cook foods thoroughly at recommended temeprature
  • Keep hot and cold foods at the appropriate temeprature
  • Discard any food kept at room temeprature for more than two hours

Holiday Food Tips

Holidays are a time to celebrate and give thanks. They are also a time for friends, family and most of all, food. Everyone has their favorite recipes, ways to prepare certain meals and holiday favorites. But did you know that holiday time is one of the most active times for food poisoning? With some tips from our friends at the USDA and the CDC, we can all celebrate the holidays with our favorite foods and keep the tummy troubles at bay.

Here are some tips from the USDA and the CDC websites to keep you "food safe" during the holidays:

Safe Food Handling- Wash Your Hands

Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean also. Always serve food on clean plates — not those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria that may have been present in raw meat juices can cross contaminate the food to be served.

Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate!

Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread. When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Always start with a clean scene -- wash hands with warm water and soap. Wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops and utensils with hot soapy water.

Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

Cook Foods Thoroughly

If you are cooking foods ahead of time for your party, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to a safe minimum internal temperature.

Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F and measure with a food thermometer.

Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F and measure with a food thermometer.

Use Shallow Containers

Divide cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165 °F. Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250 °F) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way, foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. REPLACE empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many people's hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting out at room temperature.

Follow the Two-Hour Rule

Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more.

Keep Hot Foods HOT and Cold Foods COLD

Hot foods should be held at 140 °F or warmer. On the buffet table, you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them.

Foodborne Bacteria

Bacteria are everywhere, but a few types especially like to crash parties. They routinely show up on people's hands and steam tables. And unlike microorganisms that cause food to spoil, harmful or pathogenic bacteria cannot be smelled or tasted. Prevention is safe food handling. If illness occurs, however, contact a health professional and describe the symptoms.

Click here to download the Food Safe Families brochure from the USDA in English. Or click here to download it in Spanish. Also, click here to download the USDA's Food Safety Minimum Temperature Guide; it's a great quick reference to keep in your kitchen!

For more tips on food safety, see the following websites and resources:

USDA Seasonal Food Facts:

Partnership for Food Safety Education:

The Fight BAC!® Web site at

South Nassau would like to wish everyone a very HAPPY and HEALTHY holiday season!

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