The holidays are a time of fun and celebration, and celebration means food and lots of it. But the holidays can also be a time of illness if food is not properly handled and prepared. Especially because food is prepared in larger quantities, people should be well prepared to ensure food safety. People around the world will be facing the same food safety dilemmas which caused the public health officials in Illinois to issue a warning. Each year many Americans become sick from food poisoning caused by contaminated turkey. This post on Canadianbusiness.com details the alert:
CHICAGO (AP) — Public health officials in Illinois say the holidays mean family, food and safety.
The Kane County Health Department says be sure to prepare holiday meals in a safe manner.
That includes thawing food in the refrigerator at 41 degrees or below and not at room temperature. Officials say it takes approximately 24 hours for each five pounds of frozen food to thaw in a refrigerator.
Holiday hosts should be sure to keep everything in the kitchen clean and wash hands often during preparation and serving. Guests should be careful when eating foods like raw oysters or egg drinks.
Officials also suggest double-checking meat to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked. They also warn against cross contamination. For example, don’t handle raw meats and then other food without washing your hands first.
If you will be hosting your family and friends for the holidays the last thing you want to do is make them sick, so plan beforehand how you are going to be proactive about safely handling food especially considering that your kitchen is most probably not equipped or large enough to handle the increased volumes of food. This can result in you overlooking many of the important rules of food safety such as correct temperatures for storage and preparation, preventing cross contamination etc.
Also remember to make allowance for leftovers, which there will probably be a lot of. Make sure you give your guests food to take home so that you are not left with more food than you can safely store in your fridge.
With all the busyness of the holidays it is tempting to want to prepare food well beforehand. But be careful, this can be dangerous especially if it is not stored correctly and not reheated correctly before consumption. Also if it is prepared too long in advance, bacteria have more time to contaminate the food. Some foods can be prepared beforehand while others cannot.
Make space in your refrigerator beforehand to ensure that you have enough room for storing food.
Another consideration when preparing food in large quantities is that you do not rush the cooking process and undercook food. Make sure that foods, especially meats and poultry are thoroughly cooked through and no pink is left in the middle.
Another issue to consider when preparing food at home is that you do not use the same utensils to prepare raw foods and then use them for cooked or read-to-eat foods, this is how cross contamination occurs. Make sure you wash utensils between use and wipe down the kitchen surfaces with soap.