Don't let foodborne illnesses ruin your holiday cheer! Follow these tips to ensure successful and safe seasonal gatherings.
Clean – The first rule of safe food preparation.
Separate – Don't give bacteria the opportunity to spread.
Cook – Kill harmful bacteria.
Chill – Refrigerate foods quickly.
Keep foods out of the "danger zone," which is between 40°F and 140°F.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold; bacteria can double every twenty minutes left in the danger zone.
While frozen, food is safe indefinitely, but the quality will degrade over time.
Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter.
Marinate meat in the refrigerator; this can safely be done for up to 5 days.
Wash your hands thoroughly and often -- before, during, and after food preparation.
Bacteria can't be washed off raw food. Cooking is the only way to kill potentially dangerous organisms.
Separate raw food from cooked/ready to eat food.
Either use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils or thoroughly wash with soap and water between uses.
Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours to prevent the growth of bacteria; these bacteria can't be smelled or tasted.
When storing leftovers, cut them into smaller pieces and store them in shallow dishes so they can chill faster.
Make sure the refrigerator is not over packed so that proper air circulation will occur; this will ensure proper cooling.
Leftovers are safe for 3-4 days in the refrigerator and forever while frozen – use within 2-6 months for the best quality. When in doubt, throw it out.
When preparing leftovers, make sure to reheat them to 165°F before serving.
There are three ways to safely thaw turkey:
In the refrigerator
In cold running water
In a microwave oven – but turkey must be cooked immediately after microwave thawing
Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.
Once turkey is completely thawed, set the oven temperature ≥ 325°F.
Place turkey breast-side up in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 ½" deep.
Your turkey is not safe until it reaches 165°F as indicated by a metal stem food thermometer. Doneness cannot be determined by color.
Use three places to check the turkey temperature: the thickest part of the breast, wing, and thigh.
Let turkey stand 20 minutes after cooking to allow juices to settle before carving.
Cook stuffing immediately after preparing it, or freeze it rather than refrigerating it.
When preparing to stuff the cavity of fresh or thawed whole poultry, aim for a moist stuffing mixture, and spoon it loosely into the cavity to allow for proper cooking. Don't cool freshly prepared stuffing before spooning it into the poultry.
For stuffing recipes that include poultry, shellfish or meat, precook these raw ingredients before incorporating them into the stuffing.
Ensure that any stuffing cooked inside the turkey reaches 165°F.
For optimum safety, it is recommended to cook your stuffing in a casserole dish.
Store stuffing separately from turkey in a shallow container, even if cooked inside the turkey.
For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Pay attention to the label.
Some hams are ready to eat and others must be cooked first. Hams that must be cooked have cooking instructions on the label.
Cook the eggs and half of the milk at 160°F while constantly stirring.
After cooking, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients.
Alcohol will not kill bacteria, only cooking will!
You can also use egg substitutes or pasteurized eggs as safe alternatives.
Don't eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.
Keep countertops clean, especially if using them to roll dough.