By Gina Noe
Many of us celebrate these holidays by providing delicious meals for our family and friends. But what was a wonderful celebration can become a miserable aftermath if any of your guests develop a food-borne illness.
When preparing for the celebration, it is easy to forget the principles of safe food handling. Understanding food safety is easier when you remember that bacteria needs food, moisture and agreeable temperatures to live and multiply. Denying any one of these resources slows bacterial growth and makes food safer.
Prevent bacterial contamination when possible. Wash raw foods in clean water to remove bacteria. Do not cross contaminate by using the same knife, cutting board, or contaminated hands to process clean foods after processing potentially contaminated food. Store raw meat on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator to prevent juices from dripping onto other foods. Keep cooking surfaces and hands clean and dry.
Bacteria multiply most rapidly between the temperatures of 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Store moist perishable products below 40 degrees. Use refrigerator and freezer thermometers to make sure you are storing products at the appropriate temperatures. Do not thaw frozen products at room temperature. Cook foods to appropriate internal temperatures. Use a meat thermometer to assure foods reach safe temperatures.
Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours. Spread large amounts of leftovers into shallow pans before refrigerating. Eat, freeze or discard leftovers within three to four days. Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees. Sauces, soups and gravies should be brought to a boil. Wash hands with warm, clean water and soap before and after handling leftovers.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
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