Keep food safety top of mind this holiday season2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Feasting with family and friends is at the center of many holiday celebrations. Whether you are gifting besan ladoo during Diwali, prepping a turkey for Christmas, or serving latkes at Hanukkah – food safety should always be a priority. While preparing and serving multiple foods at once for large gatherings, it is easy to forget important food-handling rules. To avoid foodborne illnesses this holiday season, keep these food safety guidelines in mind:
Clean your hands and wash your surfaces and equipment
Bacteria can easily spread through our hands and utensils. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 seconds before handling or eating food. Keep your kitchen clean by washing all surfaces, appliances and equipment with hot soapy water, rinsing and then sanitizing them with a bleach and water solution (1 teaspoon of bleach per 1 litre of water).
Keep foods separated to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria
Harmful bacteria can spread when ready-to-eat foods come into contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Avoid this by using separate cutting boards and utensils for different food items such as raw meat, poultry, seafood and ready-to-eat foods.
Cook meat and poultry thoroughly
Use a food thermometer to ensure that the food has reached the correct temperature. Refer to our internal cooking temperature guide for common foods on our website.
Keep food out of the “danger zone”
Harmful bacteria grows quickly between 4°C and 60°C. Letting food get to this temperature could make you or your guests sick. If you are preparing food ahead of time or are lucky enough to get some leftovers, be sure to refrigerate it within two hours from when it was prepared. If you are serving food buffet-style, use warming trays or crock pots to keep hot foods hot. You can also keep cold foods cold by placing serving dishes on crushed ice.
- Travelling with food? Use insulated containers with hot or ice packs to avoid the danger zone!
Defrost your frozen foods safely in the refrigerator
You can also use your microwave to defrost immediately before cooking. Do not thaw food at room temperature, as this can allow bacteria to grow.
Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, happens when you eat food containing harmful germs or organisms. You can start feeling sick anywhere from hours to over a week after eating contaminated food. Following these food safety tips can help make sure that your holiday gatherings are both delicious and safe for all of your guests. Learn more at regionofwaterloo.ca/foodsafety