During the holidays, many people gather with friends and family to enjoy one another’s company and share scrumptious meals.
Don’t let foodborne illnesses ruin your holiday cheer. Be sure to properly prepare and store food to ensure your holidays are indeed merry — and safe.
Here are some food safety tips to help make your seasonal gatherings a success:
- Keep foods out of the “danger zone,” which is between 40°F and 140°F.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- While frozen, food is safe indefinitely, but the quality will degrade over time.
- Marinate meat in the refrigerator; this can safely be done for up to 5 days.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often — before, during and after food preparation.
- Bacteria can’t be washed off raw food. Cooking is the only way to kill potentially dangerous organisms.
- Separate raw food from cooked/ready-to-eat food.
- Either use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils or thoroughly wash with soap and water between uses.
- Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours to prevent the growth of bacteria.
- When storing leftovers, cut them into smaller pieces and store them in shallow dishes so they can chill faster.
- Make sure the refrigerator is not over packed so that proper air circulation will occur; this will ensure proper cooling.
- Leftovers are safe for three to four days in the refrigerator and forever while frozen; use frozen food within two to six months for the best quality. When in doubt, throw it out.
- When preparing leftovers, make sure to reheat them to 165°F before serving.
For more information on holiday food safety, including how to properly prepare turkey, stuffing and other food items, visit the DHEC website.