Our Holiday meal favorites are foods made from scratch! Here are guidelines for the safe handling of a few of the ingredients that go into your holiday dishes. Foodborne illness can strike anyone. But If you are preparing foods for people who are at a higher risk for illness — pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems — it is critical to follow the basics of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
Remember — Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food!
To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated. Cook eggs until yolks are firm and cook egg dishes to a safe temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165 °F before serving. Wash utensils, equipment and work surfaces with hot water and soap before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Check that fresh cut fruits and vegetables like packaged salads and precut melons are refrigerated at the store before buying. Do not buy fresh cut items that are not refrigerated. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple-washed,” need not be washed. Never use detergent or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables. These products are not intended for consumption. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Do not use the same cutting board without cleaning with hot water and soap before and after preparing fresh fruits and vegetables. Refrigerate all cut, peeled or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours.
It’s always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you choose to eat raw fish anyway, one rule of thumb is to eat fish that has been previously frozen. Some species of fish can contain parasites, and freezing will kill any parasites that may be present. But, be aware that freezing doesn’t kill all harmful microorganisms. That’s why the safest route is to cook your seafood.
An Important Note About Oysters:
Some oysters are treated for safety after they are harvested. That information may or may not be on the label. However, these oysters should still not be eaten raw by people at greatest risk for foodborne illness. The post-harvest treatment eliminates some naturally occurring pathogens, but it does not remove all pathogens that can cause illness.
The non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education saves lives and improves public health through research-based, actionable consumer food safety initiatives that reduce foodborne illness. Sign up to be a BAC Fighter atwww.fightbac.org!