Published on December 08, 2020

holiday meal with all the trimmings

Enjoy Holiday Foods with Safety in Mind

Fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea … nope, this time it isn’t the symptom list for COVID-19. One in six Americans gets food poisoning each year. Try to avoid the added stress and worry of waking up with “flu-like symptoms” this holiday season by following these food safety guidelines.

Temperature Guidelines for Fridge and Freezer

  • Make sure to keep your freezer temperature at or below 0 degrees F, and your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees F. Storing more than usual, adding in warm food, or opening and closing the door frequently can cause temperatures to rise.
  • Raw meat should be kept in a container on the lowest possible shelf. The juices from raw and thawing meats can contain harmful bacteria.

Food Prep Basics for Safety

  • Never thaw food at room temperature.
  • Make sure all cooked items reach safe temperatures. You can review the safe minimum internal temperature chart from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Avoid partially cooking food for finishing later because you increase the risk of bacterial growth on food.
  • Foods that have been thoroughly cooked ahead and cooled should be reheated to at least 165 degrees F.
  • Bacteria grow rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees F. Never leave perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in this temperature range for more than two hours.
  • Refrigerated leftovers need to be eaten or thrown out within four days.

Keeping Everything Clean

  • A solution of 1 tablespoon unscented liquid chlorine bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water is a good way to sanitize surfaces and utensils after they have been washed.
  • Wash your hands OFTEN! Do the same with your surfaces around the kitchen and dining area.

If you’d like to learn more about healthy diet choices, contact the Avera Heart Hospital Dietitian Team.

Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, is a registered dietitian with Avera Heart Hospital.

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