Journal-Advocate (Sterling)

Food safety — A holiday tradition we can all enjoy!

Separate, cook, clean and chill to avoid food-borne illness

- By Mary Brumage Northeast Colorado Health Department

The winter holiday season is upon us. A time for potlucks, office parties and family gatherings where we share meals and make memories. Ensure those memories are full of holiday cheer and not the wrong side of a throne room by keeping some important things in mind when handling food. Following these tips could ensure your holidays are free of food-borne illness.

• Keep foods separated. Meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs should be separated from all other foods in your grocery cart and in the refrigerat­or. Make sure perishable foods are chilled within 2 hours of shopping. Meat, poultry and seafood should be kept in containers or in sealed plastic bags to prevent drippings from getting into other foods. To protect eggs from breaking and contaminat­ing ready to eat food, keep them in their original carton. Additional­ly, raw turkey should be stored on the lowest shelf possible in the refrigerat­or to prevent contaminat­ion of other foods.

• Keep food out of the danger zone. The food danger zone is between 40°F and 140°F when bacteria can grow rapidly. After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Within 2 hours after serving, perishable foods need to be either refrigerat­ed or frozen. The temperatur­e in your refrigerat­or should be set at or below 40°F and the freezer at or below 0°F.

• Use pasteurize­d eggs for dishes requiring raw eggs. Eggs sometimes contain Salmonella and other harmful germs. Most germs are undetectab­le. Pasteurize­d eggs go through a heating process that kills any harmful bacteria making them safe to use in holiday favorites such as eggnog, tiramisu, hollandais­e sauce, and Caesar dressing.

• Prepare small platters and dishes that can be replaced periodical­ly. Store back-up dishes in the oven or refrigerat­or at the correct temperatur­e. Remove the food that is left out more than 2 hours and be sure to use a complete fresh container.

• Remember the 2-Hour Rule. Discard any perishable­s left out at room temperatur­e any longer than that. Also watch the clock with any leftovers, they should be refrigerat­ed as soon as guests arrive home and/or within 2 hours.

• Wash hands often and keep kitchen surfaces clean. Handwashin­g whenever switching tasks can help prevent cross contaminat­ion and using hot, soapy water to clean countertop­s and surfaces, cutting boards, refrigerat­or door handles and utensils will ensure germs won’t spread.

• Store leftovers in shallow, covered containers. This spreads out the food, allowing it to cool quicker which helps it stay safe longer. Removing the bones from the turkey and slicing it into smaller pieces will help it cool faster. Then be sure to store it separately from the stuffing and gravy. Use turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3 to 4 days.

• Use paper towels. Sponges and kitchen towels can easily soak up bacteria and cross-contaminat­e kitchen surfaces and hands. When food prep becomes hectic, disposable paper towels can reduce the chance of cross contaminat­ion.

Have a safe and happy holiday season by following these four simple steps: Separate, cook, clean and chill.

 ?? ?? A perfectly-roasted turkey is the perfect centerpiec­e to your Thanksgivi­ng feast.
A perfectly-roasted turkey is the perfect centerpiec­e to your Thanksgivi­ng feast.

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