Functional Friday: Holiday Safety Tips: Food

Take a minute to read these tips to protect your festivities this joyous season. (Click the links for more in-depth information.)  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  With nationwide food sourcing and hectic holiday schedules, we should wisely take every precaution to NOT expose others to contamination and possible food poisoning.
  • Thaw your turkey (or other meat) in the refrigerator, cold running water, or the microwave.  Never at room temperature.  Start EARLY! 
  • Wash your hands with soap frequently when cooking and serving.  Use paper towels to dry.  Change kitchen towels often to avoid cross contamination.  Don't "share" stirring spoons and other equipment between dishes while cooking and preparing.
  • Like a chef, set a cup of teaspoons out for tasting items in the kitchen.  Then drop them in the sink to be washed.
  • Re-wash serving dishes just before putting food in them to ensure they haven't been spilled or splashed (or sneezed if you have kids around) into.
  • Dishes washed in the dishwasher are generally cleaner than hand-washed due to the hotter water temperature and sanitizing detergent.  (Dishwashers also generally use much less water which is better for the environment, especially if you use a safe detergent.)
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.  After two hours at room temperature, hot and cold food should be thrown out.  
  • Always reheat hot food thoroughly after storage.  Oven and stove top reheating are often safer than microwave. 
  • Leave chips and snack mix out on the table for snacking.  Keep dips, fruit, and veggies in the fridge.
  • Use a slow cooker if you want to leave hot food setting out.
  • Wear simple short sleeved shirts when cooking.  Save the elegant holiday wear for serving and eating.
  • Avoid burns by using pot holders.  Use colanders to drain hot items.
  • Although the kitchen is a popular hot spot (pun intended) for holiday social gathering, play it safe and keep kids and "non-cooks" away during the heavy duty cooking times.
  • Be extra attentive to "creative" cooking methods like smokers, grills, and deep fryers.  
  • Do not leave any food cooking unattended.  (Even a turkey.) Use a slow cooker when appropriate. 
  • Buy a food thermometer.  It will help keep your turkey moist yet adequately cooked.
  • Remember food allergies.  If you have food allergies make sure everyone is aware, and don't take any chances.  If someone on your guest list has a food allergy, considering black-listing that item.
Help keep your festivities, well... festive!

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