“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
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.
- 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.
- 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.