Keep Your Food Safe This Holiday

“Leave the food on the table and we will nibble on it later.” This is a familiar phrase during the holidays, but according to food safety experts it is not a good idea. About two million cases of food poisoning occur in the home each year due to improper handling and storage of food.

Prevent Foodborne Illness

Photo by UF/IFAS Tyler Jones

Before Handling Food:

  • Wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash hands frequently while preparing the meal.
  • Avoid handling food if you are ill or have cuts or sores on your hands.
  • Keep dish cloths and drying cloths clean.
  • Clean counter tops, cutting boards, and all cooking utensils with hot soapy water.


Photo by UF/IFAS Tyler Jones

Food Preparation

  • Use a meat thermometer to test the doneness of meat, especially poultry and pork.
  • Cook turkey to internal temperature of 160ºF.
  • Defrost 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds of bird.
  • Cook turkey at 350ºF or higher.


Storing and Serving Leftovers

  • Refrigerate or freeze leftover food within two hours of serving.

    Photo by Escambia County Extension E. Mudge
  • Store leftover food in an air-tight shallow container.
  • Do not keep leftover food for more than three or four days.
  • Place leftover food in a convenient place at the front of the refrigerator.
  • Reheat leftovers thoroughly before eating.
  • Label leftovers with the current date.

Posted: November 16, 2021

Category: Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS Extension, WORK & LIFE
Tags: Food, Food Preparation, Food Storage, Holiday, Safety

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