Holiday Safe Food Handling and Preparation The food supply in the U.S. is among the safest in the world. However, the federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of food-borne illness annually, resulting in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year. Although most people will recover from a food-borne illness within a short period of time, some are at higher risk for developing food-born illness including pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Four steps to remember for safe food handling are: clean, separate, cook and chill.
• Wash hands and work surface often. Hands should be washed with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
• Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
• Use disposable cloths or paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces.
• Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
• Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking.
• Remember to clean can lids before opening.
• Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs in grocery shopping cart, bags and refrigerator.
• Use a separate cutting board for fresh produce and raw meats, poultry and seafood.
• Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry and seafood.
• Always use a food thermometer to ensure the safety of the cooked products. Color and texture are unreliable indicators of food safety.
• Foods must be cooked to a safe internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.
• Always bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.
• Refrigerate or freeze foods within two hours of cooking or purchasing.
• Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
• Never thaw food at room temperature on the counter. Thawing should be done in the refrigerator, cold water or microwave.
• Leftovers are safe for four days in the refrigerator. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there have been many turkey fryer related fires, burns, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002 and discourages the use of turkey fryers at home. Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. Use “designated drivers,” people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a holiday party. Emergency Preparedness Committee hopes you have a safe and healthy holiday season.
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