THUNDER BAY – FOOD NOW – Heading to the holidays, keeping a close eye on food safety will help insure a fun time for your family, guests, and friends.
Food is an important part of holiday celebrations, but some foods, like turkey, eggnog and food served buffet-style, can cause food poisoning if not prepared and handled safely. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
Here are four basic steps to follow to protect yourself and your family from food poisoning:
- Clean: Wash your hands and all kitchen surfaces with warm, soapy water before, during and after preparing food.
- Separate: Separate raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
- Cook: Cook food to a safe internal temperature. Check this by using a digital food thermometer.
- Chill: Refrigerate food and leftovers promptly at 4°C (40°F) or below.
Remember, you cannot tell if food is contaminated with harmful bacteria by the way that it looks, smells or tastes. When in doubt, throw it out!
Turkey and stuffing
If you are cooking a turkey this holiday season, make sure it is cooked thoroughly by checking the internal temperature with a digital food thermometer. Insert the digital thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh. Turkey should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 85°C (185°F).
To avoid cross-contamination, cook stuffing separately—either in its own oven dish or on the stove top. If you stuff your turkey, stuff it loosely just before roasting and remove all stuffing immediately after cooking. Cook stuffing to a minimum temperature of 74°C (165°F) and refrigerate within two hours of cooking.
Store-bought eggnog is pasteurized and does not need to be heated to kill harmful bacteria. If you decide to make eggnog at home, heat the egg-milk mixture to at least 71°C (160°F) and refrigerate it in small, shallow containers so it cools quickly.
The most important food safety tip to consider when preparing a buffet meal is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. To keep food hot, use warming trays, chafing dishes or crock pots. To keep food cold, put serving trays on crushed ice.
Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible, no more than two hours from the time the food was cooked. If perishable foods have been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, throw them out!