Food safety tips for the holidays - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Food safety tips for the holidays

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Food is always an important part of holiday festivities, but meals can take a turn for the worse if food safety isn't a regular ingredient in preparing and cooking holiday meals.

In the United States, an estimated 1 out of 6 people become sick from a foodborne illness each year.  In Montana, an average of six foodborne outbreaks resulting in 80 illnesses are reported annually. In addition, more than 150 Montanans contract E.coli or Salmonella infections, common causes of foodborne illness.

Enjoy a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season and remember to be “food safe” by following these four basic steps of food safety: Clean, SeparateCook and Chill.

·         Clean - Remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Wash all kitchen utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot water and soap.

 ·         Separate - Try to use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and a separate one for fresh pro­duce. Keep fish and seafood, raw turkey, roasts, hams, and other meats and their juices separate from other side dishes when preparing meals. 

·         Cook - Cook meat and poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature: turkey, stuffing, casseroles, and leftovers to 165°F; beef, veal and lamb roasts to 145°F; “fully cooked” ham to 140°F and fresh ham, pork, and egg dishes to160°F. Use a food thermometer. If chitterlings are on your menu, boil the chitterlings for 5 minutes BEFORE clean­ing and preparing them. Egg products can be substituted in recipes typically made with raw eggs, such as eggnog, custard, or key lime pie, decreasing the risk of a foodborne infection. When using fresh eggs, be sure that eggs and products containing eggs are thoroughly cooked when serving those at higher risk for foodborne illness.

·         Chill and Store - Chill food promptly. Keep the fridge at 40°F or below to prevent bacteria from growing. Custard pies and other egg dishes should always be kept cool. Put leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours. Remember to never defrost food at room temperature.

For more holiday food safety tips and to stay “food safe” this holiday season visit and click on “Holiday Food Safety”