December is full of holidays, celebrations, gatherings with friends and family, and so on. All of these, often times, come accompanied by food, and whether these foods come from different hands as a potluck or you’re making the entire dinner on your own, food safety is even more crucial than ever. (Related Topics: Florida Food Handlers Certificates, Florida Food Handlers Card, Florida Food Handler Certification)
You’re probably worried about the flu this season instead of focusing on how much the possibility of food-borne illnesses increases around the holidays. From eating out to shared meals at home, threats to food safety are all over the place and manipulating your food correctly is key to maintain everything delicious and safe for consumption.
Food safety starts at the moment you’re buying the food and ingredients for your next meal or snack. As you shop, it’s essential to keep raw meats, poultry and seafood separate from fresh foods in your cart. Further, the order in which you buy your foods is also important, so try to buy cold foods last and refrigerate them as soon as you get home.
At home, keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and check the temperature with a thermometer every now and then to make sure your food is stored safely. Always remember to thaw your food in the refrigerator, microwave, during the cooking process or under running water that is less than 70 degrees but never thaw foods on the countertop.
When cooking and preparing your ingredients, use separate cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread. Also, try to prep uncooked recipes like salads or desserts before cooking any raw meat to avoid cross-contamination from cooking utensils or surfaces. If you’re cooking meats, use a thermometer to ensure the meat is done.
Remember to cook fresh beef, pork or lamb at least at 145 degrees; ground meats should be cooked at 160 degrees, and all poultry should be cooked at least at 165 degrees.
When you are carrying food to another location for a holiday party, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold with a crockpot and a cooler during transport. If you prefer, serve directly from the crockpot to keep hot foods at the right temperature and use an ice tray for cold foods.
Avoid leaving your food on the countertop and discard perishable foods if they’ve been out for longer than two hours. If you eat outside, store your leftovers right away in the refrigerator or freezer.