Four Steps for Food Safety: Tips for Holiday Hosting and Dining
The holiday season of buffets and potlucks is here–but food poisoning is far from festive. As people prepare dishes in advance or take home leftovers, numerous questions arise as to what is the best timeframe and temperature when cooking to avoid the foodborne illnesses. With a few simple precautions for food preparation and storage, you can keep your holiday celebrations safe and satisfying.
Four key steps for food safety:
1) Wash your hands often.
2) Separate ready-to-eat foods from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
3) Cook to proper temperatures. See cooking temperatures for meats, seafood, leftovers, etc.
4) Refrigerate promptly at 40°F or below.
Eating leftovers from your holiday gatherings? Keep these safety tips in mind:
- Store leftovers in shallow containers (two inches deep or less).
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking the food.
- Remove turkey from the bone and store it separately from the stuffing and gravy; slice breast meat; legs and wings may be left whole.
- Use turkey within three to four days; use stuffing and gravy within one to two days.
- Reheat leftovers at minimum 165°F.
- Only keep leftover perishable food for three to four days, even if it looks or smells okay.
“The biggest thing to remember is if you question whether the food is still good, don’t eat it,” says Katie Lambert, Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center clinical dietitian. “When in doubt, always throw it out.”