Learn How to Safely Travel with Holiday Foods to Avoid Food Borne Illnesses

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Packaging Food

Before traveling with holiday foods it is important to package them correctly. It is best to use plastic containers with tight fitting lids in case the containers tip in the car. The tight fitting lids will keep the foods from spilling and mixing with the other foods, causing contamination. It is important to cover the food to keep germs and bacteria out.

When packaging the food, make sure you pack raw, cooked, and fresh foods separately. Mixing these types of foods can cause serious food borne illnesses to occur. Never mix raw meats. Always make sure raw meats are packed in a separate container when traveling with food.

Keeping Food Cold

When traveling with holiday foods it is important to either keep them very hot or very cold to prevent bacteria from growing. Food should be kept cold at a temperature of lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Allowing food to reach a temperature above this will allow harmful bacteria to grow.

To keep the food cold, place the food containers in an ice chest. Make sure the ice chest is filled with ice to keep the temperature low. Do not allow the food to sit in the ice chest longer than two hours.

When reheating the food, make sure it is fully heated to kill any bacteria that may have grown on the food. The food should be reheated to a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to kill the bacteria.

Keeping Food Hot

If you are unable to keep food cold while traveling during the holidays, you must keep the food hot. To prevent bacteria from growing the food must be kept at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above. To keep the food warm, pack the food in insulated containers. Fill the insulated containers with hot packs. It can be very difficult to maintain the high temperature for a long period of time. Do not travel with the food longer than two hours.


Once you arrive at your destination with your holiday food, it is important to check it before you eat it. If you traveled with the food cold, check to make the temperature is still in the safe zone before eating it. The same goes if you traveled with hot food. Make sure the food is in the safe temperature.

Check the foods for any unusual odors or odd appearances. If the food does not smell or look right, do not take the chance and eat it. Remember, when in doubt, throw the food out. Do not take the chance of eating contaminated food .


“Holiday Food Safety” Health Canada

“Turkey for the Holidays” University of Illinois Extension