CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Many people celebrate with family, friends, and coworkers during the holidays and food is usually a significant part of those celebrations.
Food safety is important during all parts of the year, but especially during the holidays when you are serving a large number of people or perhaps, various individuals are bringing food items to share, pot-luck style.
The CDC estimates foodborne illnesses cause 48 million people to get sick each year, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths. Young children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk.
Here are some helpful tips to keep everyone safe this holiday season:
• Hands – wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds
o Before and after handling food, after restroom, changing diapers, handling pets
• Equipment – clean counters, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water
• Produce – rinse raw produce under cool running water
• Don’t cross-contaminate
o Keep meat, poultry, produce, and ready to eat food separate
o Use utensils for all items – even a bowl of chips or a cracker and cheese tray
• Always cook food to the required temperature; use a clean thermometer
o 140°F Green beans, apple pie
o 145°F Raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts
o 160°F Ground beef, pork, lamb and veal; eggs (custards, pumpkin pie)
o 165°F All poultry products; casseroles; reheating leftovers
• Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours
o Divide leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling
• Never defrost at room temperature
• Marinate foods in the refrigerator
More Holiday Tips:
Keep Hot Foods Hot! Hold hot food at 140°F or higher
• Hold hot foods in crock pots, warming trays, or keep items in the oven at 200-250°F
• When transporting hot foods, use an oven-safe dish, reheat to 165°F upon arrival
o If transporting for a period over 1 hour – chill the cooked food prior to departure, pack the item in a cooler with ice, reheat to 165°F upon arrival
Keep Cold Foods Cold! Hold cold food at 40°F or lower
• When transporting cold foods, pack items in a cooler with ice, store in the refrigerator upon arrival
• Serve fruit, vegetable, cheese and meat trays on smaller platters and rotate within 2 hours.
• Two-hour rule: Refrigerate foods within two hours of sitting out, bacteria grow rapidly in the temperature danger zone of 40°F – 140°F
• Eat leftovers within 3-4 days; reheat leftovers to 165°F before serving
CLICK HERE for a full list of safe cooking temperatures.
CLICK HERE for refrigerator and freezer storage times.
Information courtesy of ISU Extension & Outreach’s Food Safety website.
Answer line provides information and resources for Iowa consumers with home and family questions. For food preparation and food safety questions, you can call the ISU Answer Line at 1-800-262-3804, Monday through Friday from 9 am to noon and 1 – 4 p.m. They will be closed on December 24 – 25 for the Christmas holiday and on January 1st. You can also go online 24/7 to www.extension.iastate.edu/answerline, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays; they will be closed on Federal Holidays.