Holiday events bring opportunities to enjoy seasonal food favorites. Here is the next set of tips for safe handling of holiday foods we prepare most often during this time of year.
Between busy school, work schedules and preparing for the holiday season, millions of Americans will be cooking and sharing meals with family and friends. One in six people get sick every day from foodborne illness. To support home cooks in getting a safe and healthy meal on the table, the nonprofit Partnership for Food Safety Education offers up "The Story of Your Dinner" recipes, videos, kids’ activities and food prep tips. Visit Fightbac.org for other resources. Here are steps to consider.
Clean surfaces, dishes and utensils. When you get those rarely used holiday dishes out of storage, clean them in warm, soapy water and follow by rinsing well in warm water. Produce should be rinsed with water and patted dry. Meat should not be washed.
Wash hands. Wash hands for those persons preparing the food, serving or storing. Wash our hands before eating and afterward. Wash in warm, potable (safe for drinking) water, with soap and dry with a paper towel. Cloth towels are great for wiping spills but may carry germs from one hand to another.
Heat hot foods. Use a thermometer to ensure foods are heated to safe temperatures. It's 165 degrees for leftovers. Don’t trust your hands, eyes, color of product or its fluid to determine food safe temperature.
Keep cold foods cold. Safe refrigerator temperatures are 40 degrees or below and the freezer at zero degrees. We won’t know for sure unless we use a refrigerator thermometer. “Chill out” all perishable foods within two hours after they have been at room temperature.
Another way to participate in a safe meal setting is to eat at home. Although eating out is convenient, we do not know the sanitation used in food handling outside our homes. To promote eating in, Dec. 3 is observed as “Dine In” day. This date was chosen by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences because it celebrates Ellen Swallow Richards' birthday. She founded the home economics movement in the United States and was the first woman to graduate with a degree in chemistry from MIT.
Plan to take time on Dec. 3 to “Dine In” by enjoying the company of those in our home and good meals in a food safe environment.
Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, who is employed as a family and consumer sciences educator at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at 208-785-8060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.