~Submitted by the Bedford Health Department
The holidays are a wonderful time of year to enjoy special meals with loved ones. This holiday season remember to keep family and friends safe by following these important tips to prevent foodborne illness:
1. Keep Foods Separated – Avoid cross contamination by keeping raw meat such as chicken or eggs separate from all other foods. Organize raw foods in the refrigerator based on final internal cooking temperatures, i.e., foods cooked to a lower internal temperature (beef) should be above foods that are cooked to a higher internal temperature (poultry). Ready to eat foods should always be stored above raw foods.
2. Cook Thoroughly – Use a clean and sanitized food thermometer to ensure you have met the desired and safe internal temperature (see table). Allow meats to rest for 3 minutes after cooking, before serving.
3. Temperature Danger Zone – Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone”, between 40°F and 140°F. Always keep hot food hot, cold food cold. Food requiring temperature control should never be kept at room temperature. The refrigerator temperature should be set at or below 40°F and the freezer at or below 0°F.
4. Leftovers – Refrigerate perishable food such as leftovers within 2 hours of cooking. Cut large food items into smaller pieces so they cool quickly. Eat leftovers containing meat products within 3-4 days. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before eating. For additional information visit: https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts
5. Pasteurized Eggs – Always use pasteurized eggs when preparing recipes that include raw eggs such as eggnog, tiramisu, etc. Some groups of people should not consume products that contain raw eggs such as children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.
6. Say No to Raw Dough – Do not eat raw dough or batter, as it may contain E. coli or Salmonella.
7. Wash Hands – Wash your hands with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food.
For additional information on holiday food safety, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/holidays.html