Holiday food safety tips

21/11/2016 2:28:41 PM | 0 comments |
The holiday season is upon us and so we gather with friends and family to eat, drink and be merry.  But to keep your gathering from being memorable in the wrong way, it's important to take steps to protect your guests from food-borne illnesses.

4 general food safety tips

You can reduce the chance of food borne illness at your holiday party with these four simple steps:

  • Clean: Wash your hands before and after handling food and after using the bathroom. Wash and rinse utensils and other food contact surfaces and then sanitize them using a bleach and water solution (30 mL bleach per 4 litres water).
  • Separate: Make sure to always separate your raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and fresh vegetables to avoid cross-contamination. Use a separate cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood and another for foods that will not be cooked such as fresh produce.
  • Cook: Always cook food to the safe internal temperatures. Use a digital probe food thermometer. 
  • Chill: Keep cold foods cold at 4oC/40oF or below. 

Food safety for your holiday favourites


  • Defrost your turkey in the refrigerator at 4oC/40oF or less. Allocate 24 hours per 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator. Don’t defrost the turkey at room temperature on the kitchen counter.
  • Cook until the thickest part of the breast or thigh registers at least 82oC (180oF) on a digital food thermometer. 


  • If you choose to stuff your turkey, stuff it loosely just before roasting.
  • If stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, cook it to a minimum temperature of 74 C (165 F).
  • Remove all stuffing out of the bird right after cooking.
  • Cook stuffing separately in the oven in its own dish, or on the stove top, to a minimum internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF). 
Eggnog. Opt for store-bought eggnog.  It is a safer option than home-made as it is pasteurized and does not require heating to kill harmful bacteria.  

If you are making eggnog at home, you should:
  • use pasteurized eggs and milk ingredients
  • heat the egg-milk mixture to at least 71°C (160°F) and then refrigerate in small amounts using shallow containers so it will cool quickly
Baked goods and desserts. While you may be tempted to let your children lick the spoon, raw cookie dough, mousses or frostings made with raw eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria and could potentially cause food poisoning. Use pasteurized egg products for desserts that are not cooked and make sure your baked goods are cooked thoroughly.
Juices and apple cider. Check the label and make sure your apple cider or any fresh fruit or vegetable juices are pasteurized. 
Oysters and seafood. Raw seafood such has oysters or sushi may carry bacteria, parasites or viruses that can cause food poisoning. People who are more vulnerable to the risks of foodborne illness, such as older adults, pregnant women, young children and people with weakened immune systems, should avoid eating raw or undercooked fish and seafood.

Holiday buffets
  • Keep cold foods cold at 4°C/40°F or lower. Sit serving dishes in crushed ice.
  • Keep hot foods hot at 60°C/140°F or higher. Use warming trays, chafing dishes or crock pots.
  • Refrigerate hot foods once steaming stops and leave the lid off or wrap loosely until the food is cooled to 4°C/40°F or less 
  • Avoid overstocking the refrigerator so that cool air can circulate effectively.
  • Remove turkey meat from bones. Separate turkey meat from stuffing and gravy.
  • Eat leftovers within two to three days or freeze right away for later use.
  • When reheating food, make sure it's piping hot at 74°C/165°F or higher. In general, you shouldn't reheat the same leftovers more than once.
  • The 2-hour rule. Throw out any food that sits out for more than two hours in the danger zone – between 4°C/40°F degrees and 60°C/140°F degrees – it is prime for bacterial growth.

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