Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning this Holiday Season

avoid-food-poisoningHosting a dinner party can be challenging enough, the last thing you want to hear is that your meal caused your guests to be sick! Food poisoning can result in a homeowners insurance claim, not to mention some very unhappy friends and family. Avoid the drama and any bellyaching with these tips to avoid food poisoning:

Wash While You Work

You can whistle too…but make sure you are washing all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water before and after each use. And don’t forget to wash those hands! You’re wielding that knife like a surgeon – you might as well treat your kitchen like an OR – clean and sterile. Wash your hands prior to handling any food and post preparation as well.

Keep ‘Em Separated

Keep all raw foods separate to prevent any cross-contamination. That means from the grocery store -> to your refrigerator -> to your countertop. Don’t allow any raw meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or any drippings to get in contact with other foods. Also, make sure you use separate cutting boards for raw meats vs. ready-to-eat foods.

Stay Cool

Refrigerate or freeze all perishables as soon as possible. When shopping, save these items for last on your list and make sure they are the last stop on your route home. As soon as you return, unpack these items first so they stay as cool as possible.

Take the Temperature

To ensure that you are cooking food to a safe temperature, use a meat thermometer. Cooking to the proper temperature will kill any organisms or bacteria that could cause illness. A helpful guideline to follow:

  • ground beef (to 160 F);
  • steak, lamb, pork,
  • veal (to 145 F);
  • chicken and turkey (to 165 F);
  • and make sure that all shellfish and seafood are cooked thoroughly.

Avoid this Flaw when you Thaw

Do not defrost food at room temperature. The best way to thaw food is in the refrigerator. If you choose to defrost in the microwave, make sure that you are using the proper setting and cook the food immediately after removing.

“When in Doubt, Throw it Out!”

As the saying goes, if you have any question about whether the food is safe to eat, don’t second-guess it. Toss. It. Out. Don’t bother to taste it, either. Even if it looks and smells fine, it can still pose a risk.  Remember, food poisoning can be a potentially life-threatening issue for young children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and anyone with a compromised immune system.

Keep it safe – follow these tips to avoid food poisoning and ensure a happy, healthy, and drama free holiday season!