Naturally this time of the year is one filled with celebrations and eating but it is also the time of year when the most number of food poisoning cases are reported and this is no coincidence.
There are many holiday foods which we don’t really eat all year round which can present a food poisoning risk which we need to be aware of. Also this time of the year in Oz is particularly hot, so when having picnics, barbeques etc. we have to be especially cautious.
Here are some safe food-handling reminders for the holidays which I found particularly useful from Hanfordsentinel.com
Clean — Remember to wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Proper hand-washing technique is essential to preventing the spread of food-borne illness. Be sure to keep kitchen surfaces, dishes and utensils clean and wash with hot water and soap.
Separate — Prevent cross-contamination on cutting surfaces by using separate boards or mats for raw meats, poultry and seafood, a separate one for produce and a separate one for breads or other items. Keep fish and seafood, raw turkey, roasts, hams and other meats and their juices separate from other side dishes when preparing meals. Do not store raw meats above other ready-to-eat foods in the refrigerator because the juices from raw meats can contaminate them.
Cook — Cook meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature and use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to the appropriate minimum internal temperature. For whole meats (including beef, lamb, veal, pork and ham), this means cooking to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. For ground meat and meat mixtures, this means cooking to at least 160 degrees. For all poultry (including ground poultry), this means cooking to at least 165 degrees. Pasteurized egg products can typically be substituted in recipes containing raw eggs such as eggnog, custard or key lime pie. Be sure that eggs and products containing eggs are thoroughly cooked when serving those at higher risk for food-borne illness. Individuals at higher risk include older adults, pregnant women or persons with chronic illnesses.
It is also vitally important, especially in Oz that we keep our food chilled and chill leftover food promptly after eating.
Check that your fridge is at the right temperature (below 40 degrees) in order to stop bacterial growth and contaminating food. When defrosting leftovers, do so in the fridge or microwave never at room temperature.
When hosting a holiday party, remember food prepared in advance must be refrigerated. If you use shallow containers, this will make warming and cooling of food more even and faster.
Also remember to heat food to a high enough temperature. Placing the food to be reheated on several smaller platters rather than one large one may help in this regard.
Cold foods like cheeses and cold meats should be stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.
Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours and keep track of how long you have left food out.