Don't Forget These Food Safety Tips for the Holidays

Health officials remind people to follow safe and sanitary practices when preparing food for holiday gatherings, and food borne illnesses are not out of the realm of possibility.

The holidays are for family, food, and lots of activity around the house. However, cooking for a large amount of people and eating things like turkey or poultry can pose some health risks. It’s important to remember basic sanitation and safety to ensure you have the healthiest holiday possible.

South Dakota epidemiologist Josh Clayton gives the following tips to avoid food-borne illnesses:

“Don’t forget good food safety practices. Wash your hands thoroughly, clean and sanitize work surfaces after preparing raw meat and poultry, cook and store foods at proper temperatures, and don’t prepare food when you’re sick.”

Symptoms of food-borne illness include mild or severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Most people recover on their own without medication, but some need fluids to prevent dehydration, said Clayton.

Between 2018 and 2019, the CDC investigated a nationwide Salmonella outbreak related to raw turkey products. It caused some 356 people in 42 states to fall ill. Investigators found the outbreak strain in several brands and types of raw turkey products or people and pets. The CDC estimates that 48 million Americans get food-borne illnesses every year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

This only highlights the importance of handling and fully cooking raw turkey.

Clayton recommends the following tips this holiday season:

*Clean and sanitize. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with soap, not just water.
*Separate. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods.
*Cook foods to a safe temperature, checking with a food thermometer.
*Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerate leftovers right away.
*When cooking food ahead of time, cool it quickly and reheat properly.
*Don’t lick the bowl if raw eggs are in the batter; don’t use raw eggs in eggnog.
*Never use unpasteurized milk in eggnog or homemade ice cream, or for drinking.

So this Thanksgiving and holiday season, when you’re preparing food and making merry, just remember to handle your food with care.

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