Safe food handling will help prevent food borne illness over the holidays

(WIAT) — Due to unsafe handling or preparing practices, hundreds of Alabamians become sick during the holidays every year.

Follow these tips to avoid serving up a food borne illness this holiday.

Make sure to keep raw meat away from other foods, especially fruits and vegetables, as even wrapped raw meat can leak. Put all meats in plastic bags separate from other food to prevent contamination.

It is paramount to wash your hands before preparing food, and after handling raw meat. It is important to use warm water, soap and paper towels. Although hands look clean, they can be contaminated with millions of germs, and inadequate hand washing is a leading cause in food borne illness.

Kitchen utensils should be kept clean, with cutting boards, knives and counter tops being washed immediately after contact with raw meat. Any cloths that touched counter tops that had raw meat on them should be washed immediately and not reused.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of all items is correct. Turkey, chicken and poultry should be a minimum of 165 degrees, whole cuts such as roasts, steaks chops or beef, pork, veal and lamb should have a minimum temperature of 145 degrees. Ground beef, pork, hamburger or egg dishes should be 160 degrees, and fish should be 145 degrees.

Don’t cut the meat as soon as it comes out of the oven, but instead wait approximately three minutes. Leftovers should be refrigerated immediately without the lid, and lids can be put on any leftover containers once the food is below 45 degrees.

When serving, arrange the food on several small plates instead of one large one, keeping the remainder of the food either hot or cold. Hot food should be kept in warming trays or pots, and cold food should be nested in bowls of ice.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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