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Food safety tips ensure holiday cheer

HOUSTON - With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the last thing you want is for you or a family member to have a food borne illness. Up to 48 million food borne illnesses are reported per year, many of which occur around the holidays. A nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine offers advice to avoid such illnesses this holiday season.

"Young children, pregnant women and older adults are more at risk for developing serious illness from food poisoning," said Kristi King, a registered dietitian with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

King offers these important tips to keep in mind when shopping for and preparing holiday foods.

  • When shopping, keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  • If you use reusable grocery totes, be sure to wash them regularly to get rid of any germs.
  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds prior to handling food.
  • Be sure to have two cutting boards in the home – one for raw meat and another for vegetables, fruits and ready-to-eat foods.
  • 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic number – use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey or other meat to ensure it is fully cooked.
  • If perishable food such as meat and eggs has been sitting out for more than two hours, throw it out.
  • Store foods in a shallow, air-tight container so it cools rapidly to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Reheat foods to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of food borne illness.

For food safety tips that can be used year-round, King suggests visiting the Home Food Safety website.

Dipali Pathak713-798-4710pathak@bcm.edu

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