Holiday Food Safety

Monday, December 11, 2006

When making your list and checking it twice, don't forget about food safety during the holiday season.

According to federal estimates, about 76 million Americans suffer from food-borne illness, and at least 5,000 will die each year. This underscores the importance of food safety, especially during the holiday entertaining season.

Tips for Holiday Food Safety:

* Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food and utensils.

* Refrigerate all custard-type pies, including homemade pumpkin pie; perishable foods can grow dangerous bacteria when left at room temperature for more than two hours.

* Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Use chafing dishes and ice to maintain safe temperatures.

* Cooking stuffing in a turkey is a major no-no. The bird cooks both from the outside and the inside, so cook the poultry and stuffing separately.

* Wash all produce thoroughly under clean, running water and scrub the rind, too.

* Foil-wrapped baked potatoes should be kept hot or refrigerated to prevent botulism.

* Use a food thermometer to be sure foods are safely cooked.