Thursday, November 15, 2012

Holiday Food Safety

Holiday Food Safety I

Throughout my rotation at the international Food Information Council (IFIC) in Washington, DC, I wrote about various health and nutrition-related topics, one of which was food safety. With the holiday season fast approaching, and food at the center of our gatherings, it seems only appropriate to discuss this topic.


Following proper food safety guidelines prevents against the spread of harmful bacteria. Ingesting these bacteria can result in serious illness. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food poisoning sends more than 100,000 Americans to the hospital each year and can even lead to long-term health effects. This season, be sure to follow proper food safety guidelines to protect you and your loved ones from food-borne illness. Below are four great food safety tips to follow.

1. Clean

  • Wash your hands frequently

    • Scrub for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water

    • Don’t forget about the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails

  • Sanitize countertops, cutting boards, and cooking utensils

    • Use hot, soapy water after preparing each food item

    • As an extra precaution, combine 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water to sanitize washed surfaces and utensils.

  • Rinse fruits and vegetables

    • Scrub fruits and vegetables under cool, running water with a produce brush

2. Separate

  • Separate produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs in your grocery cart and your refrigerator

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for uncooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs

3. Cook

  • Use a thermometer and cook foods to a minimum cooking temperature

  • Keep food temperatures above 140°F after cooking by using chaffing dishes, warming trays, or slow cookers

4. Chill

  • Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours

  • Make sure your refrigerator is below 40°F and your freezer is below 0°F

  • Thaw foods in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave, not on the counter

  • Learn when to throw foods out

                                    Remember to follow these four simple steps (clean, separate, cook, and chill) this season. Doing so will protect you, your family, and friends from food-borne illness.

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