We get food borne illnesses when we consume contaminated food and the contamination occurs because of certain bacteria, viruses and/or parasites. Some of the most common disease causing bacteria are Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria monocytogenes. They are found primarily in or on raw and undercooked meat, poultry, and fish; on the surface of raw fruits and vegetables; in the juices of raw fruits and vegetables; in unpasteurized milk and milk products; and raw and light cooked eggs.
Holiday Food Safety Tips:
Here are some holiday food safety tips to ensure that you have a nice, enjoyable and illness-free holiday with your family:
- Make sure that you cook meats and poultry to the right temperature. There is absolutely no way of knowing when food has been cooked enough to kill bacteria but make sure you cook turkey, stuffing and side dishes to a minimum of 165 degrees. In addition, when serving, make sure that these food items are kept above 140 degrees.
- You should refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours of preparation. Leaving food out too long is one of the biggest reasons for food borne illnesses. Food left out becomes a perfect place for bacterial growth.
- You should defrost the turkey properly and if you are defrosting it in the refrigerator, allocate 24 hours for each 5 pounds of the turkey. You should never defrost it on the kitchen counter, and if you do want to defrost it outside, make sure you do in cold water. The water should be changed every 30 minutes.
- You should wash your hands thorough before and during the preparation of food. Use hot water and soap for approximately 20 seconds and do not forget to wash your hands the same way after preparing the food.
- In order to minimize bacterial contamination, wash all fresh produce even if they come prepackaged. In addition, wash and scrub the kitchen counter, cutting board and knives well.
- When reheating leftovers, make sure that you reheat them at 165 degrees. If necessary use a thermometer.
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