Are you prepared for summer festivities like picnics and barbeques or concerned about properly storing holiday treats like the Thanksgiving turkey? Here are holiday food safety tips to equip you for safe celebrations and help avoid foodborne illness. Food safety temperatures, food handling, and hygiene facts are included.
Basic Food Hygiene
Proper hand washing is the best preventive for food poisoning and the right start to hygiene. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap, then rinse well. Measure the right amount of time by humming “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." This is an effective way to teach food hygiene rules to kids_._ Hands should be cleansed after handling raw meats, using the bathroom, or touching animals.
Expect the unexpected – plan ahead and bring water in case potable water is not available. Use empty, disinfected soda bottles to tote extra water - good for the environment, good for the budget. Pop a soapy washcloth in a zip closure bag, add a roll of paper towels, and you have a mobile sanitation station. In an emergency, hand sanitizers or wipes can be used, but do not remove germs completely. Hot temperatures contribute to a faster growth rate of bacteria and increase the need for following safe food handling rules; most experts agree that foodborne illnesses peak in summer.
Sanitation Tips for Safe Food Handling
Sterilize work surfaces and utensils like cutting boards, vegetable brushes, and knives to prevent cross-contamination and follow food safety guidelines. Make sure the tip of a meat thermometer is sanitized before it is used. To make an effective all-purpose cleanser, combine one teaspoon of bleach with one quart of water, and use for kitchen sanitation.
Holiday Food Safety Tips
Food handling experts recommend perishable foods be refrigerated after an hour when outside temperatures reach 90 degrees. Higher temperatures increase risks for contracting summer food illness, and poor hygiene and a lack of diligence in following food safety advice contribute to the problem. Read Food Safety Quiz: How Long Does Your Food Stay Fresh In the Refrigerator? to test your food safety knowledge.
Play it safe, and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked meats.
Keep food refrigerated until it’s time to go, and then transfer to a cooler with enough ice to cover the food. The danger zone for perishable foods is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees; an inexpensive refrigerator thermometer is fine for checking the cooler temperature. Use a separate cooler for beverages so the food cooler can stay closed. Place leftovers in shallow containers, preferably metal, and return to cold storage.
Refrigerate raw meats, and keep them tightly wrapped prior to cooking to prevent leakage.
Scrub fruits and vegetables with a brush to remove surface dirt and bacteria. This helps prevent germs from being inserted into food when sliced with a knife.
By following basic hygiene rules and following these holiday food safety tips, any get-together or celebration can be fun, easy, and safe. For additional holiday food safety tips, check out How to Safely Travel with Holiday Foods.