Safe Cooking Tips For The Holidays

Much of the holiday season is spent in the kitchen, whether you’re cooking, eating or just spending time with others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans gets a foodborne illness every year. If you’re preparing the food for your family’s celebration, be sure you are using good practices to ensure that everyone leaves full and healthy. Your online culinary arts program has taught you the skills necessary to cook a delicious meal. Now you’ll also have to make a safe one.

Keep your workspace clean at all times. Start by washing your hands with warm, soapy water. If you handle raw product, wash your hands again before touching other food. Your utensils, work surface and cutting board should also be immaculate.

Whether your holiday dinner features a roast duck, stunning turkey or buttery ham, be sure you thaw the protein properly. Meat’s danger zone is 40 to 140 degrees. This is the optimal temperature for bacteria to grow and spread. If you have frozen product it must stay out of the danger zone until you can put it in the oven. This means that you should not thaw meat in room temperature. Pull the protein out the night before and put it in the fridge. You can also run cold water over it or defrost it in the microwave.

Keep raw and cooked items, as well as meat and produce, separate from each other during preparation. For example use different cutting boards for the ham and vegetables. Clean the meat board as soon as you are done cutting raw food. If you don’t separate the cooked and raw products, bacteria can spread. Raw meat is dangerous as it may contain E. coli, salmonella and listeria, or parasites. Those dangers will be removed during cooking.

Cook thoroughly 
Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your meat. Poultry should reach 165 degrees, while roasts, steaks or chops need to hit 145 degrees. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat so that you know the inside is cooked. Let the meat rest once you’ve pulled it out of the oven.

One of the best parts of holiday cooking is the leftover food. The excess food can keep you fed for weeks. However, you should be sure not to eat expired food. Be sure that your refrigerator is always below 40 degrees to keep food out of the danger zone. Food should be consumed in three to four days.

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