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Cooking Up Safe Food During the Holidays
“Oh, I need to rinse my turkey before cooking – the recipe says to do that!”
“The refrigerator is full anyway – this food will be okay on the table until we eat
“What’s the big deal? I haven’t been sick yet!”
Food safety may not rank high on your list of things to take care of during the holidays,
but it can make a difference. You certainly wouldn’t want to be known as the “stomach
virus” cook. But during the holidays, with all the extra cooking, food safety is
sometimes thrown to the wayside.
Nobody gets that sick anymore, right?! According to public health and food safety
experts, each year millions of illnesses in this country can be traced to foodborne
bacteria. While the likelihood of serious complications is unknown, the Food and
Drug Administration estimates that two to three percent of all foodborne illnesses
lead to secondary long-term illnesses.
For example, certain strains of E.coli can cause kidney failure in young children and infants; Salmonella can lead to reactive arthritis and serious infections; Listeria can cause meningitis and stillbirths; and Campylobacter may be the most common precipitating factor for Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Cooking in QuantityWhen preparing for your special event, remember that there may be an invisible enemy
ready to strike. It's called BAC (bacteria), and it can make you sick. But by following
four simple steps, you have the power to Fight BAC!® and keep your food safe.
Make sure you have the right equipment, including cutting boards, utensils, food thermometers,
cookware, shallow containers for storage, soap, and paper towels.
Plan ahead to ensure that you’ll have enough storage space in the refrigerator and
freezer. In the refrigerator, air needs to circulate to keep the temperature at 40
°F or below. You may need to clean out the fridge and freezer the week before to make
sure you have plenty of room.
And remember, you don’t need to rinse poultry or meat before cooking. That just spreads more bacteria around! So, ignore that part of the recipe!
When You Shop
Working in the Kitchen
Foods stored longer may begin to spoil or become unsafe to eat. Do not taste.
Salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well.
Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe but may be drier
and not taste as good.
WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!
For more information about times, temperatures, or food safety, contact me at the
White County Extension Office – 2400 Old Searcy Landing Road in Searcy, 501-268-5394,