During the holiday season, particularly in December, you will eat a lot of great food. Properly preparing and cooking your food will go a long way in ensuring your family stays healthy and has a wonderful holiday season. Follow along for five steps to take every time you step into the kitchen.
Wash Your Food and Hands
- Always wash your hands, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, before and after preparing food. Also, ensure that you completely dry your hands to eliminate extra germs.
- Wash all utensils, cutting boards, and countertops before and after everything you prepare – this will help eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination between raw meats, vegetables, and more.
- Always rinse your fruits and vegetables. They were sitting out in the grocery store, and many people may have touched them. If you want to take it further, invest in a vegetable scrubbing brush to get your produce extremely clean.
- Do NOT wash any meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. We know this may sound strange, but this can spread bacteria into your sink and contaminate your next meal, hands, or sponges.
- Always keep your meat, produce, seafood, and eggs separately! Do this in your cart at the store and the fridge or freezer, especially when preparing your meal.
- Have designated cutting boards for meat and vegetables.
- Always separate raw and cooked food, regardless of what they are.
Cook to the Right Temperature
- Beef, poultry, seafood, and more should all reach a different internal temperature to kill bacteria or germs that could make you sick. Take a look at what the FDA recommends for each.
Properly Store Your Food
- You should always put your food away within 2 hours of cooking it or bringing it home from the grocery store. Bacteria can grow on food that has been at room temperature for more than 2 hours, causing sickness, an upset stomach, or a stomach virus.
- We know there’s a myth floating around that you can’t put hot food in the fridge, but we’re here to bust that: hot food can and should be placed in the refrigerator. Try portioning out your leftovers or fully cooked meals into smaller containers, allowing them to cool faster.
Thaw Frozen Foods Safely
- You should never thaw anything on the counter or in the sink; instead, try thawing your meat or other produce in the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave.
- This will help eliminate germs that find their way to the room temperature pieces of the food.
When the CDC, FDA, DOH, and more agree on the main steps to keep your food clean and your family healthy, we’re going to listen, and we think you should, too! We hope this quick guide is a reminder for you this holiday season. If your kids or family members help you prepare and cook meals this year, remind them of these simple rules to help keep others safe and feeling their best. Happy holidays and happy eating!