Tips for keeping food safe during the holidays

Each year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness and 128,000 are hospitalized. As families and friends gather for the holidays, a traditional meal is often a big part of the celebration. So, before the celebrations begin, the Washington State Department of Health would like to remind people to follow these food safety tips to have a happy and healthy holiday season.

  • Keep raw foods separated Keep raw meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods. Make sure to keep raw meat and seafood below other foods or in water-tight containers to prevent drips that might spread germs.
  • Thaw your turkey safely – Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink full of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to keep harmful germs from growing rapidly.
  • Cook foods thoroughly – Meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can have germs that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to ensure foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold – After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable leftovers within 2 hours.
  • Do not eat raw dough or batter – Dough or batter made with flour and raw eggs can contain harmful germs such as Salmonella or E.coli that can lead to serious illness.
  • Wash your hands and disinfect cooking areas – It is important to wash your hands at key times to avoid spreading germs and to clean cooking areas and tools.

“Food is an integral part of how many people celebrate,” said Lauren Jenks, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Public Health. “Unfortunately, every year thousands of people around the country suffer from foodborne illnesses during the holiday season as a result of improperly cooked or stored food. This year, we want to minimize that as much as possible.”

For more information on food safety visit the DOH Food Safety web page.


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