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Living Well In Yalobusha County

Practice Food Safety When Preparing, Storing Food During The Holidays

Food safety is important year round, but during the holidays it becomes increasingly important. During the holidays we generally prepare larger meals, leave food out of the refrigerator for longer periods, and overload our refrigerators.

Planning your holiday meals

When planning a holiday meal or party, choose foods that can be served safely under the conditions of your planned activity. For example, hot foods need to be kept above 140°F and cold foods need to be kept below 40°F. Temperature abuse is a common cause of foodborne illness. On the buffet table, keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, crock-pots, and warming trays.

Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. You can also use small serving dishes and replace them often. Never leave the food on the table for more than two hours. Don’t plan to serve hot or cold foods if you can’t keep them hot or cold.

Good sanitation is critical. Because we are serving larger numbers of people and storing and preparing more food than usual, we have an increased risk for foodborne illness. Refrigerators are often overloaded. Therefore, poor sanitation in the kitchen can cause more problems than usual.

Cross-contamination is another major cause of foodborne illness. Any surface that food comes in contact with is a source of contamination. Cooking utensils, dishes and cutting boards exposed to raw meat and/or poultry products should be thoroughly washed prior to use for any cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.

Shopping for holiday foods

Plan your holiday menu and then go shopping. When you’re out, grocery shop last. Never leave food in the car – the car can become very hot. Take food straight home to the refrigerator to keep it safe.

When buying large pieces of frozen meat, such as a turkey, remember that it takes several days to safely thaw it. So you’ll need to buy frozen meat at least 4-5 days before your planned activity.

Don’t buy food in poor condition. Make sure refrigerated food is cold to the touch. Frozen food should be rock-solid. Canned goods should be free of dents, cracks, or bulging lids. Packaged foods should have no rips or tears. Also, check use-by dates that are on packages. Don’t buy anything that is past dated.

When buying raw meat or poultry, wrap in a plastic bag so meat juices won’t drip on other foods in your cart.

Storing holiday foods

Storing food for holiday meals can be a real challenge. During holidays we typically buy more food than usual and quite often different types of food than normal. Be especially careful that you don’t overload your refrigerator. Putting large amounts of hot food in you refrigerator at one time can cause your refrigerator temperature to become unsafe.


Recipe of the week:

Turkey Fruited Bow Tie Salad


1/2 pound cooked turkey breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups bow tie pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

1 medium red apple, chopped

1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half

1/2 cup celery, sliced

1/2 cup low fat lemon yogurt

2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


In a large bowl, combine turkey, pasta, oranges, apple, grapes and celery.

In small bowl, combine yogurt, juice and ginger.  Fold dressing into turkey mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 4 servings

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