The holiday season is in full swing, and so are the holiday recipes! From raw meat and poultry to ready-to-eat items, like fruit and vegetable there are food safety best practices to stay safe from foodborne illnesses.

Foodborne illnesses are infections or diseases caused by eating or drinking food contaminated with harmful bacteria. There are four food safety steps to follow to avoid illness: clean, separate, cook and chill! By sticking to these steps and avoiding other risky food handling habits, you can reduce your risk of illness!

Let’s talk about some food safety basics!

When shopping…

  • Select nonperishables, THEN refrigerated and frozen items
  • NEVER choose meat or poultry packaging that is torn or leaking
  • Do NOT buy food past expiration date, “Sell-By,” or “Use-By.”

When storing…

  • ALWAYS refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90°F)
  • Refrigerator should be at 40°F or BELOW
  • Freezer should be at 0°F or BELOW
  • Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats and variety meats within 2 days

When thawing…

  • Refrigerate for slow, safe thawing
  • Cold water- make sure to change the water every 30 minutes and cook IMMEDIATELY after thawing
  • Microwave- cook IMMEDIATELY after

When preparing….

  • ALWAYS wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling food
  • Do NOT cross contaminate raw meats with other foods
  • Sanitize cutting boards with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water

When cooking…

  • Poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F with a food thermometer
  • Ground meats to an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Raw meat to an internal temperature of 145°F

When serving….

  • Hot food should be held at 140°F or warmer
  • Cold food should be held at 40°F of colder
  • Perishable food should not be left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature (1 if temperature is above 90°F)

For leftovers…

  • Place food in shallow containers, IMMEDIATELY put in refrigerator or freezer
  • Use most cooked leftovers within 3-4 days
  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F

Keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season by following these food safety basics and more!