Food Safety Tips for a Healthier & Happier Christmas!
Christmas is the time of the year when families and friends come together, and food becomes the focus of the gathering. After all, good food equals good atmosphere and happy memories. Food safety is not the first thing that comes to mind during the holiday season. Though food safety must be an important part of our day to day lives, more care should be implemented while preparing and storing large quantities of food for a holiday dinner.
According to the Food Safety Promotion Board (Safefood), over 100,000 people suffer from food poisoning or gastroenteritis during the end of the year. We talk about a few crucial food safety measures that every household can implement to avoid food-borne illnesses or food poisoning, making your evening memorable in the right way.
Start by ensuring cleanliness around the kitchen. Clean your fridge regularly during the holiday season thoroughly. Also, perishables that have exceeded their best-before date must be disposed of making room for new foods. Kitchen towels, chopping boards and knives must be washed or replaced regularly. Use separate sets of knives and chopping boards for meat or poultry and another for vegetables, fruits and bread.
Washing your hands
Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, fish or poultry. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds up to your wrists after using the toilet, handling a pet or handling rubbish in the middle of preparing the food. Hands must also be washed if you’re caring for someone who is sick or when coughing or sneezing.
Wash all Foodstuffs
All produce, fresh or packed must be washed prior to using them. Washing them can minimise the risk of contamination by reducing bacteria.
Tidying up as you go along the preparations instead of waiting till the end helps avoid bacteria and contamination. It will also help you stay organised with the cooking.
A lot of holiday favourite foods like eggnog, hollandaise sauce, tiramisu, Caesar salad dressing etc. contain raw eggs. Use pasteurised eggs while preparing such food items. Pasteurisation of eggs is a heat process at low temperatures that destroys salmonella that might be present. This process does not have a noticeable effect on the flavour or nutritional content of the eggs.
Dough & Batter
Raw dough of any kind, for example, dough for cookies, cakes, bread, pies, biscuits, pizza, can contain bacteria which may cause disease. Unpasteurised dough or batter made with flour and eggs may contain Salmonella and other harmful germs like E. coli. Tasting or eating such dough or batter is not recommended. Do not let children eat or play with dough.
Store & Manage Leftovers
Prepared food is often left out on the table for long durations and in between all festivities and rush, food safety is often neglected. To ensure that the leftover food is safe for consumption, food safety standards must be adhered to.
Leaving the food out for too long is one of the biggest food safety problems during the holiday season. Food must be allowed to cool down to room temperature so that steam is no longer be coming from it before putting it in the fridge. Any food must not be left out for longer than two hours. If dealing with food cooked and consumed outdoors in hotter temperatures, leftovers must be refrigerated within an hour. Leftover food must be reheated properly till it’s piping hot all the way through. This will ensure removal of bacteria that can form over lukewarm food. Leftover food must ideally be reheated only once.
Cooked turkey and other meat may be frozen as well. However, once defrosted, it is recommended to consume it within 24 hours. Meat, poultry, eggs and seafood must be kept separately form other foods or groceries in the fridge.
Lastly, remember the most important rule to ensure food safety during holidays – Keep hot food hot and cold food cold!
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy holidays!