Tips for staying off Santa’s food safety naughty list

Tips for staying off Santa’s food safety naughty list

The holiday season is almost here, and with it comes food, food, and more food. The hustle and bustle of multiple cooks, varied meals, and the constant flow of people in and out of the kitchen creates a chaotic environment and increases the risk of foodborne illness.

Here are some food safety tips that will keep you off Santa’s food safety naughty list and ensure a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

Tips to avoid coal in your inventory:

Clean, separate, cook and chill

“Clean, separate, cook, cool” – these four simple rules are your keys to a safe and joyful Christmas. You can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria by washing hands regularly and cleaning kitchen surfaces while cooking. Avoid cross-contamination by separating raw meat from other foods, and ensuring that meat, poultry, fish and egg products are cooked to the correct internal temperature. Finally, prompt refrigeration of food is essential to prevent bacterial growth.

Cook your main course wisely

Pork cooking safety tips from the USDA:

  • Cooked, vacuum-packed pork from federally inspected plants can be eaten cold, but if reheating, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.
  • Unpackaged cooked ham should be reheated to 165°F to eliminate potential pathogens.
  • Spiral-cut cooked pork is safe to eat cold if kept at proper temperatures. When reheating, follow specific instructions to prevent dehydration.

Turkey cooking safety tips from the USDA:

  • Thaw your turkey safely using approved methods such as the refrigerator or cold water.
  • Cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F, measured at the thickest part of the thigh.
  • Avoid basting utensils as potential sources of bacterial contamination.
  • Never cook a turkey overnight at low temperatures, as this promotes the growth of harmful bacteria.

Safety Holiday Specials: Eggnog and Unconventional Dishes

  • If your eggnog is egg-based, be sure to cook the base to the lowest safe temperature of 160°F. Adding alcohol alone does not make eggnog safe for consumption.
  • “Tiger meat” or “cannibal sandwiches” are a common winter holiday dish in the upper Midwest and other parts of the country. It contains raw minced meat, usually beef, seasoned with spices, onions, and sometimes raw eggs, and is served on bread or biscuits. Hundreds of people get sick every year because of eating this dish. Never eat raw meat. Both ground meat and raw eggs pose health risks when eaten undercooked or raw. A safe alternative is to mix ground beef with spices and onions and cook it to a safe temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When baking this holiday season, don’t eat raw dough if it contains eggs or unbaked flour.

Staying off Santa’s food safety naughty list requires diligence and adherence to these guidelines. Whether your holiday table features ham, turkey or unique specials, prioritizing cleanliness, separation, proper cooking and refrigeration will ensure a safe and joyful Christmas celebration for you and your loved ones.

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