The holidays are right around the corner, and it’s a great time to enjoy special meals with loved ones. Whether you’re a pro at hosting the holiday meal or this will be your very first time, it’s important to follow and practice food safety tips. Oakland County Health Division put together a helpful list of safety tips that includes cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling your food.
- Clean: Wash your hands with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food.
- Separate: Keep meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags.
- Cook: Cook food thoroughly. Meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to ensure these foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Keep food out of the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F where bacteria can grow rapidly. After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
- Chill: Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours.
Holiday Meal Safety Tips:
Turkey and stuffing are festive favorites, but they come with additional food safety concerns. Keep your holidays healthy by following extra precaution when preparing and serving holiday staples and don’t forget the four steps to food safety for your entire feast.
Cooking a turkey requires planning and preparation; get started using these tips from the USDA.
- Buy the turkey a few days before you plan to cook it.
- Refrain from buying a pre-stuffed turkey. USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging.
- Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.
- Remember that thawing the turkey takes 24 hours in the refrigerator for every four to five pounds, and cold water thawing takes 30 minutes per pound.
- Be sure the turkey is completely thawed before cooking.
- Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 ºF.
- Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2-2 1/2 inches deep.
- Cook stuffing separately from the turkey for optimum safety.
- Check the internal temperature with a food thermometer and ensure it is at least 165 ºF.
- Let the bird sit for 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education has a special section devoted to stuffing in their Talking Turkey guide.
- Cook all stuffing and dressing to a minimum temperature of 165 ºF, whether it is cooked inside or outside the bird. For optimum safety, cooking your stuffing in a separate casserole dish is recommended.
- Prepare and put stuffing in the turkey immediately before it’s placed into the oven.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using.
- Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
- Bake any extra stuffing in a greased casserole dish.
Need more tips for preparing your feast? Call USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. The Hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). USDA’s automated response system can provide food safety information 24/7 and a live chat during Hotline hours. Check out the Oakland County Health Division website for additional food safety tips.Continue reading